As I get older I’m starting to notice this more and more.
Adults often struggle with decisions.
It seems that many people have it ingrained in their brains that they should avoid mistakes at all costs.
Maybe it goes back to our most basic human instincts. If you were a cave person and made a mistake it often meant that you would die. Fall down and break your leg? Dead. Walk into a saber tooth tiger’s field? Dead? Eat the wrong plant? Dead.
Or maybe it comes from some of our parents. Some parents shelter their kids from mistakes. They don’t want to see their kids hurt or sad so they make it seem like making a mistake is the worst thing in the world. Good intentioned, but damaging long-term.
If you’re having trouble making decisions the first step is to understand that 99.9% of the mistakes you make won’t result in the end of the world.
Here are some additional things you can do…
1. Pretend you’ve gone out of business and had to start over
I think about this from time to time. I think about what I would do if I lost all the clients at GBW and had to start over. Sometimes this frees you up to think about what you would do differently. How you would make things better the next time around.
The cool thing is that once you start thinking like this you realize that you don’t have to lose everything to make those decisions.
We often tend to continue doing things because we’ve always done them. We pretty much know what to expect. It’s a level of certainty and even if we know we should make changes we put them off to avoid uncertainty.
Get your head in a place where you are out of business and need to start making changes.
Many people add things to their lives as a way to make themselves happy. But the real way to achieve happiness is to always focus on an equilibrium.
Every time you add something you throw off the balance. That’s why so many people that seemingly have everything are so unhappy. And they keep making it worse by adding more and throwing things even more off balance.
Derek Sivers has this right. When you are thinking about adding something you have to think about subtracting something else. That’s how you keep your balance.
It’s also why spring cleaning has become cliche. Yet some of us get away from doing it. We add things without even realizing it and every once in awhile, like springtime, we need to remove things.
When you’re thinking about a decision, think about what you would subtract if you’re looking to add something. That will often help make the decision easier.
3. Giving Advice To Someone Else
Many of us find it really easy to give someone else advice. They’re struggling with a decision, a friend or family member, and to us it seems so obvious. So we offer them advice and think they should act on it immediately.
Yet when it comes to our own decisions the roles are reversed. And we can’t understand why our friends and family think the decision we need to make is so easy.
When faced with decisions, think about what you would suggest if your friend, family member or colleague had to make the same choice.
Getting out of your own head often makes the choice clear.
4. Anticipate Failure
Think about what the worst outcome would be if you make a decision. Usually you will realize that it’s not that bad. Our brains play tricks on us when it comes to failure. Our brain shuts things down anticipating the worst, but often it doesn’t actually think about the real worst thing.
You need to fire someone? That seems pretty bad if you only think about if vaguely. But think about it realistically. You fire them. You need to hire someone else. You need to do the work in the short-term. It’s really not that bad. Just make the decision and move on.
5. Look at past decisions
Think about the last decision you made. What happened? You probably fretted over that decision and now looking back you realize that it wasn’t a big deal at all.
You’re in the same situation now. The current decision you need to make isn’t as big of a deal as it seems in this moment. Make a choice and move on.
Don’t let decisions bog you down. It’s one of the things that happens to us as we get older. If you let it cripple you then you’re not going to be growing. As a person or in business. Use the tips here to help you make the decisions you need to make.