8 Tips For Overcoming a Bad Decision or Mistake, or “Why I’m Not a Kettle Corn Millionaire”

We’ve been talking about decision making, specifically how to make good decisions, here at Life Compass. Last time, I shared 7 strategies to help you increase your chances for success in the decision making process.

But, what if it’s too late, because you’re already in a tough situation?  Or what if, despite your best efforts in the decision making process, you end up with a decision that goes awry, or discover you made the wrong choice?  Perhaps it’s because you made a mistake in how you implemented the decision. Or maybe it is due to external factors or unintended consequences? [Read more…]

The Decision Making Process: 7 Strategies for Success

Tough Decisions Ahead Road SignThe ability to make good decisions is a key to success in life, and in maintaining work-life balance, wouldn’t you agree?

Yet many of us, myself included, struggle at times in the decision making process, for fear that we’ll choose the wrong option.

This is especially true when it comes to important decisions regarding our family, career, business, etc.

Like whether to go back to school, quit your job, start that business you’ve always wanted, start a family, or work from home. Or maybe decisions regarding how to care for an elderly parent or how to help your child pay for college/university.

Yesterday, in my post on How to Make Good Decisions, I promised I’d give you some tips on how to make good decisions, so…

the decision making process

Here are some seven tips on how you can improve your chances for success in the decision making process:

  1. Embrace the decision making process – Yogi Berra said, “When you come to the fork in the road…take it.” My interpretation is that when you are faced with a decision, embrace it. Don’t shy away from it.
  2. Start with a well-defined goal – Be sure you fully understand the question or problem before you make a decision or provide an answer.  As one of my mentors says,” Sometimes, how we see the problem is the problem.”  If the decision has to do with major areas of your life, like your career, family, finances, etc., you really need to develop a life plan so you know where you’re going.  Decision making is easier when you have a clear goal in mind, because you choose from choices that will move you toward that goal and avoid choices that won’t.
  3. Seek wise counsel – Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, said “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success.” (Proverbs 15:22)  Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – from wise people you know, or even from people you don’t know personally, but you know they have experience you can gain from.  Most people are more than willing to share what they know, if it’ll help someone else.
  4. Don’t fall into the trap of the paralysis of analysis – While it is important to weigh all the options, don’t allow yourself to freeze up for fear that you’ll make a wrong decision.  A friend said, “A good decision is not always the best decision, but it is better than no decision.”
  5. Resolve yourself to the fact that you may not make a perfect decision –  You’ll never know all the things that you don’t know about a given situation.  Be diligent in doing the best research you can, make your decision, and be OK with it.
  6. Pre-make your decision – If you have the luxury of time (and let’s face it, sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t) make a decision and then sit on it a while.  Spend a few days, a week or a month living in the decision, as if it had already been made.  For example, if you’re considering whether to take out a loan to buy a car, and the payment will be $300 a month, start living that way now by putting away $300 a month into savings.  How does it feel?  How does it impact your other spending decisions?  Does it line up with your financial goals and life plan?  Them imagine what it would feel like a year from now?  Does it still feel good and seem like it makes sense for you?
  7. Make your decision with FOCUS – Once you’ve made your decision, go all-in with your decision.  Don’t second-guess yourself or try to re-analyze it.  I love this acronym from Nicole Dean:  Follow One Course Until Successful.  Figure out all the things you need to do now that you’ve made your decision, make a plan, and do them until it’s done.

Would you add anything to this list?  Have any of these strategies benefited you in the past?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  In my next post, we’ll explore ways to recover from, and make the most of, a bad decision.

You might also like:
How knowing your life’s purpose will help you make great decisions
How to turn problems into opportunities
Decision making process – WWJD?

How to Make Good Decisions

Recently, I noticed that one of my kids was having a hard time making decisions. Over the holidays, we were on a Caribbean cruise and this child had difficulty deciding what to eat at nearly every meal.

If you’ve been on a cruise before (this was our first time), you know there are plenty of options and dozens of food choices available to you at each meal. Most of the options would have been good choices for him. Some were even great choices – his favorite foods. But a few were not so great and he wouldn’t have enjoyed them at all.

When it came time to place his order, he froze. He simply couldn’t decide.

Have you ever found yourself struggling to make a decision – maybe regarding a possible career change, starting that business you’ve always wanted, or some choice regarding your finances, love life, or family – because you were afraid you’d make the wrong choice? I have.

On one hand, it makes sense because we want to ensure that we make the right choice and avoid any pain or expense that may come from the wrong choice. And let’s face it – some choices carry with them some emotion pain and financial expense.

On the other hand, we can get caught up in “the paralysis of analysis.” What that means is that we can analyze the situation so much that, in order to avoid making the wrong decision, we don’t make any decision at all.

At times, it can seem like making no decision IS the safest decision to make. In reality, playing it safe by making no decision is, in my experience, often the wrong decision, because we’re not moving forward at all or taking any action.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some tips that have helped me improve my chances of making the best decisions possible. And, I’ll share some ideas on how to recover from, and make the most of, bad decisions.

If you haven’t done so yet, please subscribe to my RSS feed, so you won’t miss future posts.

You might also like:
Know your life’s purpose…make great decisions?
Decision making process:  how to turn problems into opportunities
Life’s greatest truth and hardest lessson:  everything is a choice

Know Your Life’s Purpose…Make Great Decisions?

two roadsThe following is an excerpt from The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose.

In almost every moment of the day, we find ourselves being confronted with questions and opportunities.  Our lives are a constant flow of decisions. What will I eat?  What will I wear?  Where will I go?  Whom will I go with?  What will I do?  What will I buy?  Where will I live?  Life is always asking us questions. Often they seem small and insignificant, but in truth they can significantly impact our lives.

We have options.  I could watch television for an hour every day or exercise for an hour every day.  I could eat McDonald’s every day for lunch or I can have soup and a salad.  We choose between various options a hundred times a day, and our choices impact our health, happiness, well-being, and destiny.

In his classic poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost describes coming to a fork in the road and having to choose between the two paths that lie before him.  The poem closes with one of the most famous lines of modern literature:

“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Too often the poem is interpreted as being about one monumental moment, one enormous decision, that determines the outcome of a person’s whole life.  It is as if, once this one decision is made, all is well, and the rest of the road is smooth and slopes gently downhill.

The poem is not about one moment in a person’s life.  It is about every moment of our lives.  We find ourselves constantly at a crossroads.  No sooner do we make one decision and take three or four steps down either path than we come upon two roads diverging in a yellow wood…again!

The fork in the road is constantly appearing in our lives.

The ability to choose comes from a sense of purpose.  Leaders are charged with the responsibility of making decisions, because they above all others are supposed to understand the purpose of the people or organization they lead.  Direction comes from an understanding of where you are going.  If you don’t know where you are going, you are lost.

When we have a sense of our purpose, the decisions of our daily lives can be easily assessed with that purpose in mind.  Direction emerges in our lives by bringing our decisions before the altar of our essential purpose.

If you make great decisions, you will live a great life.

As I’ve shared here before, I’ve been on a journey of discovering and living my life’s purpose for about ten years now.  Over the last two years, I made a series of decisions regarding my career and lifestyle.  I weighed those decisions based on my life’s purpose and goals, and they ended up being great decisions.

What about you?  How has knowing your purpose made decision-making easier?  Or, can you point to an instance when you know you could have made a better decision if you had known your purpose more clearly?

You might also like:
How to clarify your life purpose
Decision making process – How to turn problems into opportunities
Life’s greatest truth and hardest lesson:  Everything is a choice



Decision Making Process: How to Turn Problems into Opportunities

A few years ago, in a conversation with one of my mentors, I explained that I was dealing with a particular problem that was weighing heavily on my mind.

As I described the situation, he listened intently, seeking to understand what I was saying.  Then he said something that absolutely took me by surprise.  I was expecting empathy, sympathy, and possible solutions.  Instead, he said:

“Who says your problem’s a problem?”

I replied, “What do you mean?  I just told you the situation.  Of course it’s a problem, and I’ve got to figure out what to do.”

He went on to explain, “Yes, I understand you have a situation here that you’re dealing with.  But who says that it is a problem?  With every problem, there is an opportunity.  And I believe you really have a big opportunity here to explore and make the most of, instead of a problem to manage.  That is, if you choose to see it that way.”

Next, he helped me look at my situation from different angles and perspectives.  Then he shared some possible courses of action that I could take, and the potential results of those decisions…both in the short-term and a few years down the road.

One thing I noticed was that some solutions, which seem to have the lowest cost right now, have higher costs down the road.  And I’m not just talking money, but also our energy, emotions, relationships, goals, etc.

Later, when our conversation came to a close, I thanked my mentor for helping me gain a new perspective on my situation.  He gave me some real hope for what I thought was more of a hopeless situation.  As he left, he gave me another pearl of wisdom that took a minute to sink in…but once I got it, I got it.  He said:

“Sometimes, how you look at a problem is the problem.”

The next time you’re stumped by a problem or situation, and you just don’t know what to do, you might give these tips a try:

  1. Gain a new perspective by looking at the problem from different angles.
  2. Make a list of all the ways you could possibly benefit from this situation.
  3. Pretend that you are a coach who is helping someone else in this situation.  What would you advise them to do?
  4. Pick your top three possible courses of action, then count the cost of each one, both in the short-term and long-term.  Play them out in your mind.  If you went this direction, how would it feel at first?  How does it feel a month or six months down the road?  What are the ramifications, both good and bad?  Can you live with them?
  5. Then pick your top possible solution, and ask yourself:  “If I go this route, does it really address the real problem?” This is an important question, because it is all too easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re doing the right thing to address the problem, but then our choices results in unintended negative consequences.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Congress.

Decision Making Process: WWJD?

If you’re new to Life Compass, on Sundays I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics.  I do it because I believe we’re all spiritual beings and have some sort of a moral compass in our lives, and because the topic personally interests me.  You can learn more by clicking here.

Question:  How do you make decisions?

I know, you will probably have a hard time deciding your answer!  Because we don’t often think about how we make decisions, we just make them.

But really, we don’t make decisions out of thin air.  From our childhood until now, we’ve learned how to make decisions – big ones and small – by observing our parents, teachers, friends and others.

Some decisions, like what to eat for lunch, can be easy and have relatively no consequences (unless we’re trying to lose weight).

Other decisions, like what company to work for, or what person to marry, are difficult and can have long-term, even life-long, consequences.

Some decisions impact no one but ourselves, others have ethical implications that affect our family, co-workers, and our community.

So, shouldn’t we give some thought to how we make decisions?  And shouldn’t we learn how to make the best decisions possible, to minimize risk and harm to ourselves and others?

“WWJD” was a slogan that was made popular a few years ago on bracelets, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.  The acronym, which stood for “What Would Jesus Do,” was a reminder for people to ask themselves “what would Jesus do?” if he were faced with this decision or choice that I’m about to make.

Whether you follow Jesus or not, the point is this:  When we’re faced with difficult decisions, whether they have ethical implications or now, we can get guidance from other successful people we admire or aspire to be more like.

One way we can learn from others is by reading biographies of famous leaders and decision makers.  Another way is to read books about leadership and decision making. One of my favorite authors is Dr. John C. Maxwell.

I think one of the best decisions you and I can make is to decide to improve our decision making ability.   It is a skill that will serve us well in every area of life.

Who do you follow?  Who do you learn from, when it comes to making great decisions?  I’d be glad to hear your thoughts and comments.