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Value Creation Blog

Stop Making Dumb Decisions Now!

Posted by Josh Patrick

decisionHow often have you made a major decision before you became clear on what you want?  If you’ve ever made a mistake on a big decision I bet you spent almost no time figuring out what and more importantly why you wanted to do something.

Let’s think about this for a minute.  You make a decision or take an action that’s going to affect you for years.  Yet, you’ve hardly spent any time figuring out what and why you want to do.  Does this make sense to you?

We have a preference for action.

A lot of people in our world like the term ready, fire, aim.  This is a clever statement.  It’s even one that I’ve used before.  Unfortunately for me and probably for you, when you use this strategy you have had some outcomes that you just might have wished were different.

Taking action is something you need to do.  You don’t want to be one of those people who get caught in a planning vortex.  At the same time before you start to work on a major project think it through.

What is not really the issue.

If you’re like I used to be you’d focus on what you want to do.  Now, I start with what as a postulate.  I know that when I go through my entire process what isn’t going to be the most important thing to think about.

You’ll find that why is the important question.  You don’t just want to ask why once.  You’re going to drill down on the question why at least five times.  If your final why doesn’t support what you want to do, it’s really easy.  Change what you want to do.  You’ll be glad you did.

Scenario planning might be something to add to the mix.

I like to combine using my five why’s with scenario planning.  Before making a final decision I drill down on why it’s the right thing to do.  After I finish my five ways I move on to scenario planning.

I can tell you that scenario planning isn’t always a basket of fun.  It can often just be pure drudgery.  I’ve learned that a little hard work before I start taking actions pays off in the long run.  I bet if you take the time to think about possible scenario’s you could face you’ll be glad you did.

Have a thinking partner during the process.

Start with finding someone you trust.  You don’t want your thinking partner to tell you what to do.  You want your thinking partner to ask good questions and make sure that you’ve used a process to think through whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Make sure your thinking partner doesn’t have a hidden agenda.  This is about your wishes and your wants.  You have to stay in control.  This is especially true when the person you’re using as a thinking partner has something to lose with your decision.

Remember fail fast/fail cheap

Once you start down the road towards your major change take small steps that aren’t going to hurt if they don’t work.  Remember the principle of sunk costs.  The more time and effort that you put into a project the higher the probability that you’ll discard it if it’s not working.

When you take small steps you can easily think about whether your new project is the right one.  If you’re going to move to a new community, don’t just up and move.  Go live there for a month.  If it still works and the reasons for your move is still valid, go for it.  If not, you haven’t invested that much time and effort.

It’s about what’s going to make you happy.

At the end of the day any major change you make is about what’s going to make you happy.  You have to think in a big picture manner.  It’s not about making things marginally better.  It’s about making things be perfect in your world.

Too often I see people spend lots of time and effort on small changes that don’t make a lot of difference.  There is just too much overhead in finding real clarity if there’s not a big payoff.

It’s OK to make fast decisions on small things; it’s the big ones that can really trip up your life.  Know the difference and spend time learning what clarity means when it really counts.

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Topics: decision making, life changes, career changes

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