Change can be hard. Some people hate change. Others say they love change. Change comes in many different forms. A change of physical location, a change of the people surrounding you, a change of your major money strategies such as job or business, and then there’s the change of life- aging. Life is always changing. I’ve always said that I liked change and yet I’ve lived within the same 100 mile region my entire life. I’ve experienced job change, marriage change, the change of having children and I’ve experienced the change of starting and selling businesses.
In 2014 I made a big change, I sold a company that I’d started and owned for nearly ten years. The company was a trade show production company that I owned with my best friend and had dearly loved. So what changed? What brought me from the place of loving the company to choosing to sell the company and move on?
First, the company had grown into its own. When you start a business it’s generally all you. As the business owner YOU are the company. I was fortunate to have started the business with my best friend so it wasn’t just me, but the two of us. However, it was still the two of us. We did it all. We created the product, sold the product, marketed the product. We managed the money, took care of taxes, figured out insurance and our corporate status. We did it all. And then we hired employees and those employees left and we hired different employees and those left and we hired yet again until we reached a place where we had a good team and understood how to hire and keep employees, how to motivate and manage. When I sold the company I knew it had come unto its own. We had a sales manager and an event manager who had been with the company and are to this day. We had a good sales team and a marketing manager. We didn’t have to do it all anymore. I knew that if I left the company it would continue on.
I was tapped out. The creative juices that had once swelled for this company were dwindling. The fire that had burned, the passion and excitement were gone. It had become a job. I didn’t feel I was doing my best to be the leader I longed to be. I was tapped out. I had gone to my well for inspiration and excitement so many times that I felt it was now depleted. I didn’t feel that I had any great concepts or ideas that would have positive influence on the trajectory of the business.
I realized selling the company was an option. When starting a company there is always the hope that selling your business will be possible, but many are unable to sell their companies. I realized that what we’d built was sellable. I realized I had options. To that point I felt that I was forever chained to the company and truthfully had been happy with that bond. However, when I realized I could, I did.
I was ready for a change. Businesses go through cycles as do people and the business had gone through a cycle and I was ready for a change. I was ready to spend my days thinking of new things. I was ready for a different obsession.
The people in my life changed; my mother passed away. And in that moment everything changed for me. Life will of course be forever different on earth, but my passion and zeal for life and the business was gone. I needed a break from the consuming tasks of business ownership. I needed space to reflect on life and needed a new path. I had to break the path I’d been on in order to start a fresh. I needed a fresh new look at life. The company needed me to sell. It needed me to move on to new opportunities. I had given it my all and there was no more to give.
This past weekend, I visited a trade show that was held by the company I sold. I was a bit concerned that I would have feelings of regret, or that I would see the trade shows weren’t being run as well as they should be run. However, what I found was just the opposite. The trade show looked fabulous. It was well put together, organized, beautiful and even better than when I sold the company. And as a founder isn’t that what you want to see? Don’t you want to see that what you started is continuing on? I was so happy. And regret? There was no regret. I didn’t have a longing to be back in control or in charge. I was simply happy that it was all doing so well!
Why is it so hard to make a decision?
Are you one of those people, you know that kind of person that hates to make decisions. I used to HATE to make decisions. It really didn’t matter what I was making a decision about, I could have been choosing a restaurant for lunch, an outfit for a special occasion or even a marriage proposal. From life changing decisions to minor decisions, I hated them all. I didn’t have a good system for making decisions and thought that if I made the WRONG decision life would come to an end. So as most people do I stalled. I just didn’t make a decision. What few people realize is that indecision is decision making. Instead of making a decision you’re choosing not to make a decision, which is decision making. You aren’t choosing your life, you’re letting your life choose you.
Why do we find it difficult to make a choice?
Often we’re just simply afraid of being wrong. We’re afraid that if we make the wrong choice the world as we know it will come to an end, or we won’t get the outcome that we’re so fixated on. Have you ever known a survey decision maker? They can’t make a decision without the input of their 100 closest friends. When faced with a choice they think that if they ask enough people or ask the same person repeatedly they’ll get to that perfect decision. I have a friend whom I dearly love, but she can’t make a decision to save her soul. She asks my opinion on nearly all of her decisions and never seems to like the responses I give her. She knows what choices she wants make, but needs validation. She doesn’t have confidence in her decision making abilities. Needing the validation of others is a hindrance in your decision making process. There is power in all of our choices and if we have confidence in our abilities to make good choices we’ll feel empowered when given an opportunity to make a big decision.
There are techniques for making powerful decisions and the first step is to embrace the decision making process. Go out of your way to make decisions. Practice with small decisions. If someone asks where you’d like to go to lunch instead of hem and hawing around be the first to make a suggestion. Seek out opportunities to make choices.
Make decisions quickly. When faced with a decision don’t spend hours, days, weeks or months obsessing over your choice. Gather the information needed to make your choice and then go for it. Don’t survey lots of people, don’t over do your fact finding just make a choice. Use your gut. Often gut feelings are better indicators than tons of facts. Weigh the gravity of the decision and plan accordingly. If you are making a huge life choice such as a career change, house purchase, marriage, etc. give the decision the time it warrants, but don’t over do it. Most of us don’t face life changing decision each day, frequently the decisions we face are choices that we just need to make quickly and stand firm on. Being decisive about whether to take a vacation, get your oil changed, buy a new couch, go out to eat, confronting an interpersonal issue or even the choice to take a new exercise class should all be easy choices. Make them quickly, make them decisively and your personal confidence and success will grow. Studies show that most successful people make decisions quickly because they are clear on their values and purpose in life. When you are clear on your values and purpose each choice simply needs to be held up to those standards. If the choice will further you in your life purpose, or help you live your values the choice is an easy yes. If the choice isn’t inline with your values or doesn’t promote your purpose it is an easy no.
Decision making is a tool that can be used at any time to change your entire life. We all make many small choices each day that add up to the sum of our lives. Each day we choice to eat healthy or cave to our bad eating habits. We choose to get up and move around, go to the gym or for a run, or sit on the couch. We choice to be a positive person, or a negative person. We choose the security of our jobs, or the risk and benefits of being a self-employed business owner. We choose to use mean critical words, or loving accepting words with our friends and family. We choose to live our purpose or medicate with an excess of alcohol, coffee or sugary treats. Each and every decision you make takes you down a path. Is the path that you’re following a path to success or a path to mediocrity? The hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment- a true decision. When you make decisions that lead to success, you truly change your life.
Learn from your decisions. As you increase the number of decisions you’re making you will have the capacity of evaluating these decision to see if the outcome was beneficial. Learn from your mistakes. If you’ve made poor decisions in the past evaluate what about that choice resulted in an undesirable outcome. Perhaps the choice wasn’t inline with your values or your purpose. Perhaps the choice was based on your selfish desires, and not grounded in the standards that you’d like upheld in your life. Next, think about good decisions that you’ve made. What made that decision a good choice? Was it highly beneficial to you and those around you? Why was that choice so powerful? Learning from the choices that you make is a critical step to better decision making.
The next step in powerful decision making is to stay committed to your outcome but flexible in your approach. Last year I made a commitment to get in shape. I decided that if I was ever going to be in really good shape now was the time. I joined a local fitness center and I’ve been working out three times a week for a year. I’ve definitely gotten in much better shape. When I first made the decision to get in shape I knew I had to be committed to the outcome. However, the vehicle to get me to that outcome has changed. The original fitness center I joined was quite challenging, but after a year of consistent workouts the gym I’ve been attending is no longer meeting my needs. It no longer is inline with my decision to get in shape. I’ve had to relocate to a more challenging gym environment to stay committed to this important decision. When I made the decision to get in shape, I wasn’t making a decision to join a gym. I was making a decision to do whatever it took to get and stay in shape. I’ve allowed myself to be committed to the outcome, but flexible in my approach to create this outcome. It’s not uncommon for us to be committed to the process instead of the outcome, but the process can change. It’s the outcome that we’re after. It so valuable to realize that when making a decision you have flexibility. Putting this step into practice will allow you the freedom that you need to feel confident in your ability to make decisions.
Sometimes our expectations can get in the way. Have you ever given any thought to your expectations? If you really think about what expectations you put on people and situations in life you’ll be blown away. I’ve found that I have expectations regarding just about everything. I expect that my family will arrive at home on time. I expect that our nightly routine of dinner, bath, reading and bedtime will be over by 8pm so that I can have some allow time. I expect that the package I ordered from Amazon will arrive in 2 days. I expect that my friends and family will be supportive and loving. I expect that if I work hard my hard work will pay off. I give 100% and I expect those I interact with to give 100%. I expect a lot. I have high expectations for myself and everyone else. This gets me in trouble (sometimes a lot of trouble). When I make a decision I have an expectation that the decision will turn out the way I’ve planned. The reality of life is that things don’t turn out the way you expect them too. I have to expect that things will not go as I planned them to go and be okay with that. I can be committed to my outcome but realize that when a decision involves people that decision isn’t always going to play out the way I would like it to play out. I’m committed to working on growing my business a certain number of hours per week, but life happens; kids get sick, houses need emergency repairs or friends need encouragement over a cup of coffee. I can’t let a schedule change derail me from my commitment to grow my business, from my commitment to my decision. Letting go of expectations helps you to accept life’s challenges and be okay with making decisions.
Enjoy making decisions. If you currently dread decision making, change the way you view decisions. Looking at decisions as merely an opportunity to create the life you desire will reframe that choice allowing you to see the power of one small choice. Remember that you’re life is made up of a collection of small choices. Each day we make hundreds of decisions. Enjoy that process and see the choices for the power they bring.
7 Steps to Making Powerful Decisions
- Get clear on your values and purpose- this will allow you to make quick decisions that are in alignment with your values and purpose
- Be decisive- don’t hem and haw, just do it
- Realize that decisions have the power to change your life
- Learn from your decisions
- Stay committed to the outcome, but flexible to the approach
- Keep your expectations in check
- Embrace decision making
Heather Osgood used to have analysis paralysis. She now loves to make decisions and makes them daily including the choice to sell a successful business she’d owned for 9 years. She also picked out all of the elements of her kitchen redesign: countertops, faucet, appliances, tile, etc. in about 2 hours and she loves her kitchen. Decisions don’t have to be paralyzing or painful, they can be opportunities for freedom. If you want to talk to Heather more about how you can make better decisions shoot her an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org