Just Make a Bloody Decision

Just Make a Bloody Decision

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Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, as the old adage says, and that is altogether true of decision-making. Don’t ever put off making a decision, because it’s often just an excuse to dither and avoid taking responsibility. Lack of decision-making skills is a serious problem for many people that cripples their productivity, prevents their progression and marrs their personal lives, too.

Just ask yourself – if you make a decision, what is the worst that can happen? The immobility of indecision is so much worse than simply making a decision. For good or bad, action is better than inaction. So let’s get rid of that disability. Now.

So, have you decided to deal with this now, or will you leave it till another time, later… maybe… eventually… sometime… never?

Before you set about curing your inability to make decisions – first identify if you are guilty of the crime, as charged. Do you stand accused of always putting off a decision? Leaving things till the last minute? Letting things drift? Missing deadlines? Missing opportunities? Saying you’ve got ‘loads of time’ then scrabbling around at the last minute, fire-fighting? Missing out on concert tickets that you really wanted, but ‘didn’t get around to’ buying in time? 

Do you never ‘strike while the iron’s hot’?

Some people won’t make a decision until they have ‘more information’. What is ‘more information’? Is enough ever enough? It is a proven fact that the more information you have, the more confused you can become.

Less is more. More clarity, more instinct, more swiftness, and more action. Whereas deferring a decision to await ‘more information’ is stagnation, inaction, missed opportunities and missed goals.

Do you spend time on diversionary tactics like browsing the internet or searching through emails rather than making decisions on more important tasks and issues? This is otherwise known as ‘deviation’; one definition of which is ‘the distance by which a point of impact misses the target.’ Are you a deviant? How far off-target are you in your daily work? Take that arrow, and fire it straight and true at your target.

Are you guilty of putting obstacles in your path to prevent you from “doing and achieving”?

The problem with not making prompt decisions is that it sends you into a spiral of passivity and negativity, when your real aim is to be actively productive and positively focused!

Here is a checklist to literally kick start you away from the dreaded “P” word in decision-making. Procrastination, that is. Productivity and positivity are the good P’s.

1. Have a clear vision of where you are going
Most poor decision-makers don’t know where they are going. And why would anyone move, take action, or make a decision if that’s the case? So, the first steps to beating procrastination are to create your vision and decide on your goals. 

We can all learn from the philosophy of the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland, as Alice, who is lost, asks him:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Are you prepared to wander, dither and prevaricate? Or do you want to get to the point, and your destination, directly?

I talk about vision quite a lot, but developing a clear vision of what you want in life helps you to make decisions far easier. What is your life plan? And on a smaller scale, what is your work plan, or project plan? 

Does your lack of  vision for where you are going make it harder for you to make decisions?

2. Find your purpose
Do you have a sense of purpose that drives you to succeed? Chances are, if you procrastinate, you have perhaps lost your way. What’s the point? What is your purpose?

Apathy is a common trait in people who put off making decisions. Do you care about your work? Does what you’re doing matter to you? If it’s your business, there is no excuse for a lack of passion. If you don’t love what you do – it may be time to do something else. Or at the very least, do things differently!

If you have no sense of purpose in what you’re doing, it can leave you bereft, depressed, or worse. What’s the point? And if you can’t see the point – why do it? Nailing this attitude can be the key to curing procrastination.

Finding your purpose is not often discussed, either down at the pub with your mates, or even with the careers officer when you left school… but it is so important! If you deliberately challenge yourself to find that sense of purpose, you are more likely to feel work satisfaction. So – how do you do it?

The answer lies in your own values. What gives you joy? What do you value? What’s important to you about work? For what purpose do you work? Why do you do what you do?

Is it for money? Security for your family? Creativity? Fun? Achievement? Making a difference? Beating the competition? Helping people?

Another word for purpose is ‘mission’. What is your mission? Create your own mission statement:

James Bond: Licensed to Kill (maybe not that one, unless your business actually is contract killing, but you get the idea). Or consider my tagline, which I add as my email signature in all correspondence: ‘Marc Winn – Liberator of Entrepreneurs’!

Knowing what drives and motivates you is the key to changing your attitude to your work – and making decisions. Can you use your values and motivators to drive you to make decisions instead of waiting, putting things off, and being indecisive?

For example – if you’re driven by money, think of how much money you will make from that potential new contract. All you need to do is make the decision! 

Let the outcome drive you.

Or if you value fun and making people’s lives enjoyable: will this new partnership provide that?  Yes or no? Decision made.

How can you find purpose in what you are doing? 
How can you ensure that your decisions fulfill your sense of purpose?
Do you need to change what you are doing, or change the way in which you do it?

3. Eliminate the need to make decisions
Another technique I use for poor decision-makers is to get them to take themselves out of the decision-making loop altogether. How can you devolve responsibility to those in your team who can make decisions? How can you simplify your business so that fewer decisions need to be made?

If you’re going to embrace your inner indecision-maker, you must be prepared to let other people make the decisions. Say proudly, “I can’t make decisions!” if that’s how you feel, and if you don’t want to change. But if you won’t change your mindset, you must be prepared to change your management decision-making processes, and give control to other people. Say, “You decide!” with confidence.

This approach avoids the problem rather than tackling it and asking you to change your ways. That is why it should work, even for the worst-afflicted. It will solve the problem in certain aspects of the work context, but the problem elsewhere will persist. Until you change yourself. 

4. Stop thinking. Start doing.
It sounds simple, but most procrastinators need a little more ‘Nike’ in their life. Just do it!

Make a commitment to making decisions. Change what you say to yourself and others. If you’re a ‘let’s think about it’ kind of person – say ‘let’s decide on it’ or ‘let’s do it!’ instead. Make a decision. No excuses, no waiting, no thinking about all the permutations and possibilities. 

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink extols the virtues of snap decision-making. Most gut-reactions and instinctive decisions are the right ones. Thinking, analysing, reasoning, considering all the permutations – these all just muddy the water.

Of course, you can plan things, rather than just doing something straight off, cack-handedly. But by the time you start planning – you have already made the decision to do so. That’s the main thing. Done.

Decide to do it – plan it if necessary – and do it. Not as catchy as the Nike slogan, so my preference is still:

Just do it!

5. Don’t blow a decision out of proportion.
Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Tell yourself that every decision you make is a ‘simple choice’, and then waste no more time on it. The more you put off deciding – the more the fact that you haven’t made a decision plays on your mind!

Yes, you can build something into a huge thing if you like. But why on earth would you?

Often your fantasy of ‘everything’ you have to consider is way out of proportion with the reality.

If you want to blow things out of proportion, use that catastrophic thinking as a threat of what might happen if you don’t get your finger out and ‘just do it’!

6. Just take the first step.
Don’t get overwhelmed by looking too far into the future or seeing a huge array of tasks ahead, as it will seem an impossible task. Just focus on taking the first step today. Make the decision. That is all you need to focus on, nothing else.

You know the way to swallow an elephant – one bite at a time.

Decisions make for progress. Break down your tasks into small decisions, and get the ball rolling. If you’re considering a huge partnership deal, the start of negotiations may be as simple as making a phone call. Making the call is making progress. So just decide to do it, then make the call, and you make progress. Long projects, with periods of inactivity and waiting, sap morale. Keep things moving, and keep energy flowing, to progress.

Often the reality of a decision is much easier than the thought of it. Decide on a particular course of action. Make a start, and you’ll find that you’re soon in the flow, getting it done. Then instead of ‘just do it’, you find you’ve just done it.

7. Start with the hardest decision of your day.
Dale Carnegie made a great statement “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”

You might find that you have important decisions to make every day. Tea – or coffee? Invest a million pounds, or not? Whatever is the hardest decision – do it first.

What is the hardest decision you have to make today? Sack that slacker. Pull out of that deal. Decide to make that phone call to an unhappy customer, or manage your out-of-control inbox before you drown in emails. Stop putting it off. Just get it out of the way and move on. You will feel energised for having done it, and everything else will feel easy in comparison.

Train yourself to face your demons as soon as you get into the office. Whatever time you start work, make sure that you complete those hardest jobs first – and make those hard decisions. Then reward yourself with a coffee, or  a process of your emails. The rest of the day will feel like such a breeze, when you know that you’ve dealt with those nasties!

8. Face your fear.
What is stopping you from just making a decision? Is it fear? Fear of what? Making a mistake? Fear of failure? Identify what it is, and deal with it. For sure, this is holding you back from your dreams, your goals and your success. You don’t have to live with a decision forever. If you make a mistake you can correct it later. Don’t let anything hold you back.

Face your fear head on, and take responsibility. What is the worst that can happen? You might not succeed? How bad can that be? If you fail, simply put it down to experience and learn from it. 

Carpe diem – sieze the day. Watch The Dead Poets Society to see how that phrase impacted upon everyone, encouraging them to grasp life and live it to the utmost. There are so many mottos, adages and straplines that you can use as motivators for you. If you’re frightened by the thought of ‘taking the bull by the horns’ – use a different metaphor. If you prefer, make sure you ‘strike while the iron’s hot’- remembering that heated metal is soft, malleable and easy to bend to your will. Just don’t let it go cold, though! Or make up your own: ‘eat the apple while it’s fresh’, or create one to fit your passion or pastimes, that equates to ‘Just do it!’

Never get to the stage when you look back and say “I regret not doing …” anything you put off for no good reason other than your own fear. If you had overcome that emotion, and just done it – how different might life be?

Take a risk now and again. Live life to the full.

9. Make sure you finish what you start!
Make a decision, and see it through. By finishing what you started, you will feel energised!

If you don’t finish what you start – how will you ever feel a sense of achievement?

Some people use personality tests and preferred team roles as an excuse – ‘Oh, I’m not a completer-finisher – I have people to do that for me’! But isn’t this just inflexibility? The most successful people can adapt themselves to circumstances. Why not challenge yourself to build up new strengths and skills?

Or if you are a committed ‘initiator’ and simply cannot or do not finish things yourself, make resourcing it through to the end part of your initial decision. Decide a way to get it completed. Delegate or outsource to others. That way, it does not have to involve you personally in completing the task, but it does ensure that you get it finished.

Decide to be decisive. See it through.

Feeling a sense of achievement, feeling satisfaction from the completion at a ‘job well done’ – it can’t be beaten. If you’ve never tried it – don’t knock it . Do it. Otherwise, you’ll never know what you’re missing.

10. Just make a decision. Any decision.
Take confident action by simply making a decision one way or another, as this will increase your confidence and self-esteem. 

Don’t wait for the perfect solution – it may not exist, and in the meantime, you’re wasting time. Ask yourself – ‘What can we easily do right now that is good enough?’

Decide, and move forward. Just get into the rhythm of making a choice. Every decision you make is a brick in your foundation as a decisive person – that you can’t build on to achieve even greater success.

If you still find it difficult, take the need  for you to make a decision completely out of the game, and let chance and luck be your judge. Flip a coin, roll the dice, or simply say yes to everything. Any decision is usually better than no decision. Try it for a week and see what happens. You will be surprised! It may get you to re-evaluate… your life, your work – certainly your attitude to decision-making.

The inability to make a decision is a problem. If you have a problem, do something about it.

Indecisiveness is a tax on your own life and the lives of those around you. If you suffer from this affliction, do yourself, your colleagues and your loved ones a great favour and kick that habit.  Conquering it will have a huge impact on what you can achieve.

So how far can you go?

Further Reading:

Feel the Fear by Susan Jeffers (Amazon Link UK, US)

Yes Man by Danny Wallace (Amazon Link UK, US)

Getting Things Done by David Allen(Amazon Link UK, US)

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracey (Amazon Link UK, US)

Other Links:

The Dead Poets Society (Amazon Link UK, US)

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at getintouch@marcwinn.com.

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