Get Good At Being Decisive

“Aaaarrrrgggghhhhhh, I just don’t know what color feature wall to put in that room…”

That was me a few years ago, agonizing over the color to use in our latest development. We had decided the paint colors well in advance (Finish Before You Start, and all that) but as the project was coming to its end, we decided to add a small pop of color in the kitchen.

It was a straightforward decision (what color to put on a wall approximately 12 square meters in size) but one that weighed on me for days and days because I kept putting it off. It was a miniscule detail compared with the enormity of what had gone into the project, but that one small decision was one I just couldn’t make…

Now that decision didn’t make me cry, exactly, but it did take up a lot more emotional and mental space than it should have (It’s just paint! I can hear you thinking.)

But perhaps some of you, maybe all of you, can identify with the difficulty that comes along with deciding on things all day long (decision-fatigue is a real and scientifically proven phenomenon, dear readers).

So whenever I find myself struggling to decide, I remind myself two things: 1) Nothing is forever (ie, almost every decision — except the one to have kids! — can be undone or changed) and 2) As business owners/entrepreneurs/executives/leaders, we need to get good at being decisive.

We can’t agonize over every detail, we can’t keep waiting for more and more and more (and MORE) information before we choose a path, we can’t keep waiting for the maximally optimal option to arise because most of the time it won’t.

To be successful, we need to take whatever mix of good, bad, and ugly that is presented to us in any given situation and do the best we can. We need to make the best decision possible in the moment and leave it at that. We need to be decisive, and get better at being decisive, by practicing and making decisions confidently and actively.

Because let’s face it, waiting doesn’t usually make the decision any easier or better, and often it does the exact opposite. Waiting just prolongs the pain, adds to the confusion, and increases our mental load.

I’m not saying we leap before we look (be decisive, not hasty!). All I’m saying is that we need to get good at making decisions, at being decisive, and getting $hit done.

Because, really, what’s the worst that could happen? If you hate the feature wall color, you can repaint it. If you don’t like the logo you chose, you can ask your designer to create another one. If you don’t like the sandwich you ordered, you can go back and get a different one.

Very little is set in stone (and even things set in stone can be reset or re-chiseled… or you can get a different stone!). The key is to just start from somewhere, make an initial decision, and then see if it was the right one, or if something needs tweaking. The key is to take decisions like the boss or leader or executive that you are, or hope to be.

Being decisive isn’t always easy, but it is essential and gets easier with practice. So start practicing and getting good at being decisive because your success — and sanity! — may just depend on it.

And for anyone who was wondering: I chose Coastal Waters for the feature wall in that kitchen. And it looks fantastic.

(Another variation on this call to be decisive is a great quote that I heard once: “Successful people are quick to make a decision and slow to change their minds; unsuccessful people are slow to make a decision and quick to change their minds.” See, I’m not the only one who thinks being decisive is important for success!)

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About Me
Rupal Patel logo
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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