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Decisiveness is one of the most important qualities entrepreneurs need. Being decisive means being able to make decisions firmly and relatively quickly, rather than sitting on them indefinitely or changing your mind later.
Related: 11 Ways to Beat Procrastination
Decisiveness is important, too, because it means that as a business owner, your response time is faster, you can resolve problems faster, get started on new ideas sooner and adapt to new circumstances without raising more issues.
It also increases your authority and reputation as a strong leader, earning you your team’s respect and allowing you to set an example at the same time.
If you yourself are a chronic procrastinator, however, being decisive will be a challenge. 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.
First, understand indecision.
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, but most entrepreneurs who do so 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 two 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 deciding. In any scenario, we want to choose the “perfect” option, the one with oodles of benefits and no downsides. Unfortunately, such options aren’t realistic, so we’re left instead with a handful of options that aren’t 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 immediate progress.
Instead of trying to finalize your decision right away, commit to making some kind of progress with your decision. An example: If you can’t decide what to write about for your next blog post, write down a handful of potential ideas. This will allow you to follow your instincts and delay the finality of your decision, but will also force you to take a step closer to that ultimate goal.
This strategy may not be ideal when a decision is urgent, but if you have some time to play with, it will offer a productive spin on your usual 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 will make us less likely to take the risk, and more likely to survive in the long term.
As a business owner, inflating your expectation of risk can make you worry excessively about how your decision might be wrong — no matter what choice you make. Realizing this, you might try to 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. Make a flow chart to document what might happen at each stage of your decision, and walk through the main steps of your logical narrative.
You’ll either feel more comfortable about your thinking, or 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, while 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 make progress toward becoming a stronger leader. It won’t happen all at once, so remain disciplined and patient in pursuit of your long-term business goals.