How I Stopped Making The Wrong Decisions

by | May 28, 2024 | Coaching, Coaching Tips Series | 0 comments

Making the wrong decision sucks. The feeling of disappointment – in the outcome, and in myself – I’ve always found it unbearable. In my life I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid feeling disappointment, which has made decision making quite tricky.

It started as a kid and continued way too long in adulthood: my carefulness. So much effort poured into making sure I didn’t make that wrong decision.

And the most annoyingly sucky thing about it all? The harder I tried not to make a bad decision, the more bad decisions I made.

Now my life isn’t littered with tonnes of bad decisions, but I did use to spend an awful lot of time contemplating and analysing my decisions.

Running through scenarios in my head to see how it would play out. On my own mind you. Ask for help? Not for this independent gen-Xer.

I was trying hard but I wasted a lot of time and effort.

Now I’m sure that you’ve never been as weird about this as I was, but I bet you work hard to make the right decisions.

I also bet that even though you’ve got a pretty good track record of right decisions, you are still concerned about not messing up, especially as you’ve taken on more senior roles.

If it’s taking up more time and energy than you want it to, then keep reading.

How I stopped making the wrong decisions

Here is a collection of the most helpful things I have done to stop making the wrong decisions AND make decision making easier and quicker.

Understand what the purpose of the decision is.

Sometimes I can get so caught up in all the decisions to be made that I forget that making decisions needs to have a purpose, otherwise it’s just busy work.

Here’s a story that illustrates just how profoundly vital knowing the purpose can be.

Years ago when I was logistics manager for a factory, we had to make a decision on whether to continue with our current freight company or switch to a network carrier. It used to be a family company and had been in the town for decades. One guy there had worked there since he turned 16 and was now almost 50. Our freight company was our next door neighbour and had done all our haulage for years.

It was a sensitive topic.

To help me navigate, I needed to look at a mass of data about routes, delivery size, parcel weights, etc. But most importantly I needed to know why we needed to make a decision about it.

Our new MD wanted to cut costs (no surprise there), and our current carrier wouldn’t reduce their rate – and were in fact considering quitting immediately.

So this wasn’t just a cost cutting exercise: it was literally about how do we maintain our ability to keep delivering product to our customers.

Knowing the purpose helped me also manage all the factors, and actually find a good way forward with our long time partner as well as find a new supplier for partial shipments.

side note: it’s one of my proudest moments of my early career: ethically working in partnership with our long standing supplier while taking care of our business needs.

Get a different perspective

When I’ve got a decision to make, I talk it over with a friend or with my coach, or go do something with my hands (check the next point for how gardening helps me find solutions). This gives me two things:

  1. It forces me to get clear on the issue – if I can’t explain it simply to someone else, then I don’t actually understand it. In that conversation I may figure it out, or I I’ll leave knowing what I need to find out
  2. I get asked helpful questions that make me look at the issue from different perspectives. And we keep looking at perspectives until I find one that makes me go “oh! I know what do”.

Make a half decision

Now this sounds weird I know but let me explain what this means.

Recently I was tired and fed up and wanted to retire and live out the rest of my days gardening and cooking. So instead of going full in with the decision to quit, I made a half decision and “retired” for a few days. Kind of like trying on shoes before you buy them. You’ve got to walk around the shop in them first.

Taking those few days off gave me what I immediately needed: time to plant out my peas, and start clearing out that carpet of Chameleon that has taken over the whole garden with all this rain and sunshine.

And it gave me a taste of what this decision would mean for me.

In doing this, I got clarity: I don’t want to retire from everything, but I do have some habits and mindsets that I’m fed up with and want to quit. It’s those things that I want to quit and be done with, so I’m retiring them. And keeping the work I love.

Now, I bet you have your own version of at least a couple of these. But now I’m coming to the big mamma of all things that helped me stop making the wrong decisions:

Stop the self-doubt

If only there was a switch to flip inside your head to stop the self-doubt!

Well, actually there is. It’s a mental “muscle” that we can build, and the good people at Positive Intelligence have written a book about it.

They call this switch the Self-Command mental muscle. It’s central to the Mental Fitness program I run.

Like any good fitness journey it takes a while to get really good at those heavy weights – you know those rarer days when that inner critic has really gotten a hold of you and plagues you with doubt? – but you can stop the general level self-doubt quite quickly.

Check out this assessment if you want to know where your self doubt comes from.

How do you stop yourself from making the wrong decisions?

This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.

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