Do you ever regret decisions?
I think it’s normal for most of us to look back on certain decisions we’ve made and see that they were poor choices.
I know I’ve made poor choices. Some I didn’t realize were bad, but sometimes I’ll kind of know that something won’t work out for the best and I still make the decision anyway.
There’s some weird science around people and decisions and regrets.
One interesting thing is that people often regret not doing something versus something they’ve done. One study asked people in their seventies about regrets. Some talked about things they wished they hadn’t done like start smoking, but four times as many said they wished they would have done more things like finish college.
That makes sense. When I was looking at leaving my full-time job to go full on with Ghost Blog Writers I remembered hearing and reading what entrepreneurs would say about their businesses. They would say things like, “I wish I would have started sooner” or “I could have done this, but I was scared”.
And we do that with many things in life.
So today we’re going to look at ways we can make better decisions in life and in business both with things that turn out to be bad for us and things that we may be missing out on.
1. Worry A Little More
In the Good To Great business book series it was found that successful leaders often, very often, had the trait of being worriers. For example, Bill Gates would often send out memos to employees with his top concerns for their company. Outside threats. Internal vulnerabilities. All kinds of stuff.
These leaders, whether by the way their brains were wired already or by practice, wanted to think about all possible outcomes or at least as many as they could think of before making decisions. They looked ahead and weren’t afraid to look at the potential bad things that could come their way as a result of certain decisions.
It might drive you a little crazy, but worrying a bit more seems to lead to better decisions.
2. Let Go Of Pride
This is a tough one for business leaders. Being stubborn and prideful often leads to perseverance and success. Entrepreneurs are good at pushing through against all odds and because of that they often succeed.
But this is also a risk in many instances. Some things are just destine to fail no matter how much effort and money are spent. It can be easy to continue throwing money at something simply because “you’ve already spent so much” or have “spent so much time on it”.
Don’t let pride get in the way of calling it quits when it’s evident that something won’t be a success.
3. Juggle Fewer Things
It’s a frustrating fact of life, but studies have found that the less money you have or make the worse your decision making will be. The findings seem to point to the fact that when you’re busy juggling so many things in life including financial decisions and more that you’re more likely to make poor decisions.
That seems to make sense. The harder your brain is working and the busier it is the less bandwidth you’ll have for each important decision. That would mean that the more you have on your plate the worse your decisions will be.
So a good practice would be to look at all the things you’re juggling in your life and find ways to remove some of them. Maybe some items just aren’t important and you can cut them out. Maybe you can lean on others to help with some decisions. Automate more things like paying bills and ordering groceries and things like that.
4. Create A Vision
A vision for your life and your business is good. Why? When you have a vision or a focus it’s easier to make decisions. A vision almost kind of removes the burden of making decisions.
Let’s say you have a lawn mowing business. Your vision is to become the biggest lawn mowing company in your city. Good or bad – that’s the vision.
An opportunity comes up to take a big lawn mowing job in the city 30 miles away. Does that align with the vision? Nope. It might be exciting on the surface, but there would be additional costs and your goal is to be the biggest in your city. Going to another city would take away from that goal.
Another opportunity comes along for painting houses. It seems like good money, but does it align with the vision? Nope. Your goal is to become the biggest lawn mowing company in the city.
When you have a vision it becomes easier to outline how you’re going to make decisions.
5. Create More Options
This is an interesting finding, but it’s a good one. Most times we give ourselves two options. Should I do something or should I not do something? But it was found that if we add a third item to the option list that our decisions improve.
Should I buy a new car?
Should I fix a few things on my existing car and keep it?
Those are two options, but things get interesting if you add:
Should I get a bike?
That can change things for the better.
6. Don’t Eat
This is an odd one. In a study it was found that if you’re hungry that you’ll make better decisions. Maybe it would be wise to skip breakfast in the morning especially if you have a busy day at the office where you need to make important decisions. Or perhaps you set your schedule so that you’re making decisions either right before lunch or right before you leave for the evening.
7. Avoid The Immediacy Of Information
We have a tendency it seems to look at new information as better information. And that’s obviously not always the case, but we’re kind of wired that way. If you look at all information without looking at the recency or immediacy of it you’re likely to make better decisions.
8. Don’t Follow The Pack
Humans often follow the pack. It’s called different things like herd mentality. We’ve kind of evolved to do what others have been doing and that works for some things, but if you look at successful people they’re often the ones doing things entirely different from groups of others.
If you’re faced with an important decision, don’t just look at what others have done as your only source of information. What others have done may be the right choice, but trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust your experience and your own research and then make a decision even if it’s different than what others have done.
9. Forget About Who’s Watching
This is a common study with teens where they’re more likely to take on risk if they know peers are watching. So they’re more likely to run a yellow or red light if they have friends in the car with them. That kind of thing.
We do this in business too. We think about our colleagues, competitors, employees and others and think, “What will they think about this…” and it affects our decision making often in negative ways.
We often want to impress others and make them like us, but taking that approach often leads to poor decisions.
10. Improve Your Diet
Finally, new studies are coming out all the time linking our brain health to our gut health. The old adage that you are what you eat really is true. If you want to make the best decisions possible then you need your brain to be operating at its best and that requires good gut health and a good diet.
We can all make better decisions. But if we don’t change the way we make decisions we’re putting ourselves and our companies at risk. Hopefully these tips will help you with how you make decisions. It was enlightening to find the research for this post. I found some things that I’ll definitely be incorporating into my decision making process.