That was a clickbaity headline and I apologize for that, but here’s the truth: it likely worked, right? 😉
Ok, so on to the answer. The magical word is ‘DECISIONS’.
I read this Forbes post by Travis Bradberry the other week and it just stuck (like the best Sunday morning sticky-bun from the market kind of stuck.)
Admittedly, I take a while to make decisions. From what to do this weekend, to when to fire someone, to what color lipstick to wear (Don’t blame me for being a woman about this, it’s really a thing). As Travis explains “With so many decisions taking up each day, learning to prioritize them and make them effectively is essential to your success and happiness.” Where most people fail is in prioritizing the decisions. We often default to working on the quickest task to ‘get it out of the way’ or because it’s likely the funnest task. By avoiding the important decisions and thus avoiding the big important priority, we are just filling our days with things that keep us busy and get us nowhere.
Can you relate?
Yeah yeah, me too! But, here I am to teach you some simple quick wins to help make decision making a default state.
Small Decisions Need a One-Time Focus
Small decisions include what to wear, what to eat, what to pack for your kids lunch and when to schedule a doctors appointment (That’s not urgent), for example.
The last Sunday of every month plan your meals for the following month. I use Google Spreadsheets that I share with my house manager and husband. It includes a grocery list and recipes. It’s this, or nothing. Pre-pack baggies of veggies, bake extra gluten-free muffins and freeze them, pre-cook chicken to have for 3-days. Really, there is no excuse. Deciding what to eat shouldn’t take time.
People who are constantly talking about an idea or dancing around making a decision, are either fearful to make the move or are seeking affirmation from someone significant enough to justify the decision. Big mistake. What do they say “move fast and ask for forgiveness later”? While this applies to many situations, I get that it takes time to think through things like a big purchase (home) or who to hire (talent). But it shouldn’t take you 1 hour to decide on what to wear.
What to Wear: Pink, or red or blue, or skirt, or pants, or…
There is story about this NYC based art director who wears the exact same thing to work everyday (A-la-Zuckerberg-steve-jobs). I say, boring. She says, productive. Makes sense if you really don’t care. A friend of mine, Satya Tweena who makes THE BEST hats, ever, always wears black. Yes! I am a black lover too. So that’s easy enough to prepare for the day. Even if you prefer color, prints and really crazy styles, plan your week ahead. Look at the weather, check your meeting schedule and prepare your conquer outfit. Repeat if necessary.
The point being, things of lesser importance (with hardly a ripple effect) shouldn’t justify drawn out decision making. Create a schedule or system and stick to it.
Schedule Time to Think
“I got my idea in the shower”, “I made my decision while on a run”, sound familiar? It’s because mundane tasks make you think. And if they are scheduled mundane activities then even better. It’s prime time to think deeply about something that actually requires a lot of thought. If you need to ‘sleep on it’ (a.k.a – give yourself time and space to think about it) then take the time on your run to come up with the solution and commit to completing your run only when you have the decision made. By doing so, it helps to take emotion out of decision making, which makes for way better judgement calls.
Great leaders understand how to balance emotion with reason – Larina Kase
Trust Your Gut
Your gut has a force for a reason; it’s essentially a solutions place. With everything a leader has learned about a situation, an industry or the problem at hand, it can come to a solution (decision) without requiring much thought. If you’re extremely educated in one industry specifically, say a doctor, making tough decisions quickly for the sake of someone’s life can come from the gut. Not because of emotion, but because of hours of training and certainty in their work. So if your gut is telling you one thing, but your heart another, go with your gut. Your heart is an emotional place which will likely lead to unreasonable decision making. Great leaders ‘hurt people’s feelings’ because they often make decisions that positively impact their employees, their customers and stakeholders, and their organizations as a whole.
Ask for Advice From 3-Different People
I recently had the tough decision to fire an extremely toxic employee. She bullied my team, had poor performance, was incredibly emotional (playing the victim all the time), and despite all my efforts (giving her space, a raise, taking the tasks she always complained about off her desk), she was still a bad fit. I spoke with two of my advisors, my mentor, and my extremely talented husband about the decision to let her go, asking if I had reason to do so. Without hesitation they all agreed — FIRE her! I held off for too long (Going with my heart) and when I finally did let her go, it was too late (someday I’ll write about the outcome). Without the advice of at least three of the people who have supported me through launching my business, I likely still would have her on my team. But that’s beside the point. If you are hesitant about anything, ask your advisors , mentors or someone who has successfully done it before you. And if it’s a big decision, get advice from three people.
Bad Decisions are Gifts In Disguise
A good friend of mine helped me through the emotional rollercoaster of firing that one person. At the end of one of our long talks, she said “This is a gift”. At the time, I couldn’t help but focus on all the BS flying around me. But after it had all settled I quickly realized that this actually was a gift. The lesson learned: MAKE A DECISION!!
Next up: deciding when to publish this post 😉