One of the most liberating and stressful parts about owning a business is making decisions. Having the final say isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be — especially when times are tough.
It’s somewhat easier to trust your gut when you’re the primary one impacted by an outcome. Things get tricky when employees are factored into the mix.
As we approach the new year, many of us in the small business world are doing so with cautious optimism. The events of 2020 made a lot of decisions for us but as a whole, the choice is still ours on how to proceed.
Tough business decisions are always going to present themselves. How we respond to them though, is something that — with a bit of mindfulness — is totally within our control.
View the Decision With Fresh Eyes
Psychologists have found that when it comes to making decisions, timing is key.
How many times have you been given the advice to “sleep on it” when tasked with a tough choice? The morning hours are much more productive for decision-making than later in the day.
In the morning, your mind is refreshed and not yet bogged down from a day of meetings, staring at a computer screen, helping kids with homework, etc. You have the clarity to approach a decision with more thoughtfulness and accuracy.
Be Mindful of Mood
This isn’t the first or last time we’ll bring up the power of a positive attitude in business. Negative thoughts beget negative outcomes, so if you’re not in a good headspace, it might be best to put that big decision on the backburner.
When depressed or upset, you’re much more likely to think irrationally or jump into a decision too quickly. It’s also more difficult to view a decision through the lens of others when emotions are heightened.
Consider the Paradox of Choice
The paradox of choice stems from a book written by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In it, Schwartz argues that having more choices doesn’t always lead to a better outcome.
Think in terms of choosing jam at the grocery store, for example. Studies have shown that people are more likely to land on a decision and purchase when presented with fewer options.
When we’re presented with more, we have more to question; more possible outcomes to look back on and imagine how they would’ve turned out.
As you master the art of decision-making, try not to get held up on the details. This doesn’t mean you jump in without doing your research but be mindful of overwhelm. There’s a difference between due diligence and stalling.
Flip a Coin
Can flipping a coin actually help you make smarter decisions? Maybe.
While we won’t sit here and tell you to turn to a coin for every major life choice you’re confronting, we also won’t tell you not to. View it as an exercise for helping you become better acquainted with gut instincts.
The idea is simple: assign two options to either side of a coin, flip it, and gauge how you feel when it lands. If you feel relieved at the sight of the side a coin has landed on, it may be the option you’re most drawn to. Alternatively, if you feel uneasy, the option might pose some problems worth revisiting.
A coin won’t set the final decision into motion (unless you want it to). It can, however, be a great tool to use in taking a step back and reconnecting with your intuition.