Getting Off the Fence – How to Make Tough Decisions


How do you make a decision when you’re experiencing indecision? Well, this week we’re Off Balance On Purpose in Toronto. I’m in Toronto this morning, speaking this afternoon, and I’ve been in a decision mode lately about something in my life that’s very positive but also very important. And so that is to say I’ve been in a place of indecision, on the fence, which can be a very uncomfortable place to be. When you don’t know with confidence what the right answer is, what do you do? Well usually the answer is you don’t make a choice. You distract, postpone, or hedge that decision. And maybe you’re in a place like this right now in your life. So what I thought we could do is to think it through together, and I’ll present some techniques which will help you. How do you make a confident decision? Even the best opportunities have some potential detractors. So on a sheet of paper lists your pros and your cons. Just write them down, that way you can look at both aspects objectively. Ask the opinions of those you respect and admire. Listen to their perspectives from your own. Open your mind, but remember that you’re the one that must live with the final answer Here’s what I mean: In your thinking project to a moment in time when you’ve already made that decision in a particular way. Ask, “well now, how do I feel about that?” Are you excited? Are you relieved? Or are you now a bit more nervous? And then ask, “Had I made that decision in the other direction, how would I then feel about that?” By looking back from this future view and comparing the feelings, now you have valuable emotional context for your intellectual analysis. This last technique comes from my friend Dan Burrus. It’s similar to pros and cons but even more powerful. First ask yourself, “What is the greatest potential upside of saying yes to this decision.” Imagine that vividly, and what it would be like for you to actually have that outcome, and then ask yourself, “What is the most likely potential downside if it doesn’t work out the way I hope were expected it will?” And lastly ask, “Is it worth the risk of the potential downside to attain the potential upside?” You can never be a hundred percent sure, which is why they call it uncertainty, but with these techniques you can step in to your present decisions with more confidence as you create your possibility-rich future. And you know what? I think I know what I’m going to do. How about you? Until next week…decide already! And stay Off Balance On Purpose.

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