Decisions are part of everyday life as we make hundreds of both personally and professional on a daily basis and most of which are routine but from time to time you get the ones that take a deeper drive, but if you review all the facts and are still uncertainty then follow your gut.
A few are critical which requires more thought and consideration. It is the critical decisions in business and life where we should spend the majority of our time and effort to ensure we make the most appropriate decision possible. Notice, I said the “most appropriate”, not the perfect or correct decision, because there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to making a decision. It is all about using the knowledge you’ve built up over a lifetime and your gut instinct to make the decision that is the most aligned with yourself and your goal.
Making decisions is part of everyday life. In business, entrepreneurs make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis and most of which are routine. A few are critical which requires more thought and consideration. It is the critical decisions in business and life where we should spend the majority of our time and effort to ensure we make the most appropriate decision possible. Notice, I said the “most appropriate”, not the perfect or correct decision, because there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to making a decision. It is all about using the knowledge you’ve built up over a lifetime and your gut instinct to make the decision that is the most aligned with yourself and your goal.
As an entrepreneur, I consider myself an optimist, the glass as half full type of person. However, as an engineer, my instinct and teaching cause me to plan for the unexpected. I believe this makes me a “cautious optimist”, for lack of a better term. This does not mean that I make the best decisions every time, however, I do make a decision using all the information I have and a healthy dose of my gut feeling. The gut instinct was developed overtime through making lots of small mistakes, recognizing them, and moving forward and improves everyday leading us to improve our decision-making process overtime.
Uncertainty comes in many forms: economics, politics, inflation, recessions, competition, interest rates, and many more area. All these uncertainties pose different risks that we are bombarded with on a daily basis via social media, news channels, e-mails, and even conversations with friends and colleagues. It is important to understand the source of the information that you are receiving, control what you can, and anything beyond your control should not take up a lot of mental space. What I mean by this is that instead of attempting to alter or control the impossible, you should take these factors into account without spend much energy worrying about them.
So, how does a person deal with uncertainty, especially in business? I find it best to keep it simple; start with the question you wish to answer, do light research, I make a list of things that can go right or wrong, then analyse your risk. You can do this by listing action items to improve your chances of a positive outcome effectively through efforts to limit the cons you’ve previously listed. When we finish this process, hopefully there is a clear winner.
When there are still too many unknowns or the risk is too great, you need to move on. If the risks can be managed and the rewards are reasonable, it’s GO TIME!
Beware! One significant challenge that can arise is when you become too invested or emotional about any particular decision. You should know equally well when pull the trigger to get started AND when to call it quits. This can be crippling because moving on or moving forward requires a level of comfort with uncertainty. Nothing is 100% certain, regardless of the amount of research and planning. Learning to be comfortable with a certain level of risk will allow you to make decisions more efficiently. With time and hitting milestones, you will become more comfortable with the process and your risk tolerance may increase.
The key is to work towards not being afraid to make these imperative decisions as it will always allow you to focus on the project you are fully committed to pursuing.
Risk is different for each individual and the circumstances surrounding them. When you can’t afford to lose, it is difficult to play the game. It causes stress, makes you question your gut, and overthink every detail and, unfortunately, often results in “analysis paralysis”. You’re frozen because you continue to analyze and seek certainty which will likely never come. You may know someone like this! After years of talking about starting a business or making an investment, they have yet to make the move. Sometimes this comes from contentment with their current situation, it could be overanalysing of the endeavour, or it may be their aversion to risk. There is nothing wrong with being risk averse, it is not for everyone.
In business, as in life, often your gut is the best indicator of what you should or shouldn’t do. Of course, analysis of the numbers is helpful to validate a decision, too. Sometimes, if you truly believe, when the numbers don’t work initially, you can make them to work with a few tweaks. Be creative and opportunistic. But we cautious with this as you don’t want to see the numbers with rose coloured glasses and be too optimistic as this is more like a taking a gamble which is not the best way to run a business… or your life for that matter.
If it doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t. I truly believe we have a gut instinct for a reason. It has allowed us to survive on this planet for thousands of years so use it to your advantage when making decisions and verify it with the numbers.
Life is too short to keep holding onto something that just will not work. Pushing a square peg into a round hole is not fun and never works. There are lots of great ideas our there, just keep looking and find something that works for you and your risk tolerance level.
Thank you for reading my thoughts! I hope that one word or phrase helps you as you take on a world of uncertainty and make tough decision more easily.
by Dan Monk