Decisiveness is one of the most important qualities for entrepreneurs to have. Being decisive means being able to make decisions firmly and relatively quickly, rather than sitting on them indefinitely or changing your mind after making a decision.
This is especially important for business owners because it means your response time is faster, you can resolve problems faster, get started on new ideas sooner, and adapt to new circumstances without issue. It also increases your authority and reputation as a strong leader among your team, earning you respect and setting an example at the same time.
But for chronic procrastinators, being decisive is a challenge. When faced with a tough decision, you might delay your answer as long as possible or avoid making the choice altogether. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to foster more decisiveness in your own life.
Before you start changing your outlook on decision making, you need to understand the roots of indecision. There are many reasons why you might procrastinate in general, but most entrepreneurs who procrastinate decisions end up in a trap of analysis paralysis. This happens when you overanalyze a problem too much, searching for a perfect solution that simply isn’t there. You may run over the same options, hoping for some new evidence to appear, or toggle between your choices, unable to determine which is better.
So how can you overcome this?
1. Forget Perfection
Winston Churchill said it best — “Perfection is the enemy of progress.”
Perfectionism often holds us back from making a decision. In any scenario, we want to choose the “perfect” option — the one with oodles of benefits and no downsides. Unfortunately, these options aren’t realistic, and instead we’re left with a handful of options that don’t stand out as particularly good or bad. If you want to resolve the situation, you’ll need to ditch any notions of perfectionism that might be clouding your judgment. Realize that business decisions are inherently imperfect, and that all you can do is find a decent path forward.
2. Make Some Progress Immediately
Instead of trying to finalize your decision right away, commit to making some kind of progress with your decision. As a simple example, if you can’t decide what to write about for your next blog post, write down a handful of potential ideas. This allows you to follow your instincts and delay the finality of your decision, but also forces you to take a step closer to that ultimate goal. It’s not a good strategy when a decision is urgent, but if you have some time to play with, it’s a productive spin on your procrastinating habits.
3. Stop Inflating Your Anticipation
Remember that our brains are hard-wired to overestimate the negative consequences of our actions. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense; believing there’s an 80 percent chance of death when there’s only a 50 percent chance of death will make us less likely to take the risk, and more likely to survive in the long term. However, as a business owner, this can make you excessively worry about how your decision might be wrong — no matter what choice you make. Realizing this, you can compensate for your overinflated anticipation, and normalize your thought patterns.
4. Write Down Your Logic
Going over your choices in your head for the millionth time isn’t going to make you feel any better about your decision, one way or another. Instead, try to externalize your arguments by writing down your logic — preferably on a piece of paper in front of you. Make a flow chart to document what might happen in each potential branch of your decision, and walk through the main steps of your logical narrative. You’ll either feel more comfortable about your thinking, or you’ll find a flaw to correct.
5. Meditate and Distance Yourself From the Problem
There’s hardly ever a bad time to meditate. If you find yourself wracked with anxiety over a given decision, take some time to clear your head, breathing deeply, and becoming mindful of yourself and your surroundings. This can reduce your anxiety and help decompress your brain so you find clearer solutions, and faster, when you return to your normal state of mind.
Decision making is a skill, and like any other skill it can be trained, improved, and refined. Committing to these tactics and practicing the art of swift decision making will eventually make you a better decision maker — and you’ll become more comfortable with the process too.
With these strategies, you aren’t guaranteed to overcome analysis paralysis or transform yourself into a more decisive entrepreneur, but you will be more comfortable with your decision making, and you’ll make forward progress in becoming a stronger leader. It won’t happen all at once, so remain disciplined and patient in pursuit of your long-term business goals.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!