How to make good decisions

There are days when you will feel like things aren’t moving forward. You will feel stuck. If you let it, this can lead to anxiety and then panic. Your thoughts will run wild and then all of the “what if” scenarios will start to pop into your mind. You will freeze up with the inability to think and act clearly. All you will want to do is lay down. The fear will be so strong, you will feel compelled to search for an exit. This compulsive need to escape will prompt you to do something irrational, because all you want to do is stop the uneasy feeling you have in the pit of your stomach. Shallow ideas will creep into your thoughts and in haste you will act. If the feeling doesn’t go away, you will act again. You will finally get relief when you get some or any response. Your satisfaction will not be fulfilled and regret will start to set in. All that you have worked for, all of your hopes and dreams are now in jeopardy. What have you done? This was a big mistake. If only you had stopped yourself just 30 minutes ago.

Have you ever felt like that? It can happen fast. Time and time again I’ve seen poor Web Development decisions made, just like that. Heck, I’ve seen a lot of decisions made like that. When running your own business or helping others run theirs, you have to keep yourself in check. You hear about these parables all the time, “A moment of weakness can lead to a lifetime of regret.” Here’s another one, “If I knew then, what I know now…” We’ve all seen this unfold in our work lives, in our relationships and even in the movies. We should be experts at avoiding these types of scenarios, yet here we are. In project and client management its always been my job to prevent these situations from happening. To look out at the horizon and see it before it gets too close. Then if it does happen, have a rapid action plan to recover quickly. To be a part of the solution you have to speak up. Get in front of that runaway train, before it gets down the tracks. In some organizations, that can be a hero moment and in your freelance business it can mean survival or certain death.

The skill of being a good decision maker is not magical. You are not born with it. You learn it by someone showing you the signs. In many presentations I call it, “reading between the lines.” When working with people, this can be done by understanding social cues. It might be a tweak in someones voice or an offhanded comment in an email. This negative reaction is the beginning of a dissatisfied person. As soon as you identify the situation, you must address it, before it manifests into something else. Before it escalates. When you work for yourself, it’s a little harder to identify. There is too much going on. Other things to consider. It’s finding a needle in a haystack. It’s like you are freaking out and someone is yelling back at you to CALM DOWN! That never works.

How I try to make good decisions

  • Do the non-decision. If I’m put on the spot, I make no decision at all. I’ve trained myself to just say no or say, “I will need to discuss it.” I probably use this one the most and it’s very effective. Just ask my daughter.
  • Get out. My best decisions are made when I am doing something else. Taking the dog for a walk, weeding the garden or sweeping the patio is where some of my best ideas come about.
  • Listen. Most bad decisions are made when you don’t have all the facts. It seems that these days people’s attention spans are limited, so they tend to rush through things, thinking that they’ve got all the information they need, only to find out later there were some gaps in their assumptions.

Making decisions is hard, but a very important skill to learn. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions, but I’ve learned from every one of them. It’s safe to say, our decisions, good or bad, is what defines us. The best part about practicing making good decisions, is when you make one, you’ll know it.

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