time management

Beyond Pros and Cons: Three Secrets to Making Better BIG Decisions

August 16, 2021

Reading Time: 11 minutes

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Episode 92 is all about making BIG decisions.

It seems like the older we get, and the more responsibility we shoulder, the more we’re faced with decisions that carry a lot of weight. We’re faced with big decisions that affect our future, and often the future of others too. Other like our spouses, partners, children, parents, and employees.

And when I say big decisions – I don’t mean decisions like what you should make for dinner, or what you should wear for that upcoming presentation. I’m talking decisions like – Should you sell your house? Should you accept that job? Should you make that big investment in your business? Should you enroll your child in this school or that school? Should you stay at home or go back to work? Big decision that, when made, create a ripple effect across our lives – possibly changing our path all together.

So what does this have to do with time management, productivity or work/life balance?

When we’re faced with making big decisions, we can feel afraid, anxious. We’re afraid we might make the wrong decision, or that we’re regret the choice we made. A lot of times, that fear leads to worry, and that worry leads to procrastination. Instead of facing the big decision, we put it off – inevitably making ourselves feel worse because we’re not able to be fully present… because we’re caught in a spiral of what if’s and possibilities.

This episode is dedicated to ending the head-spinning spiral and shining a light on three secrets to making big decisions easier.  That looks like making your big decisions in a timely matter – not dragging it out – and feeling confident in the decision you’ve made so you can spend less time worrying and obsessing over the decision and instead spending your time and energy on what truly matters most.

So today, I’m diving into

  • How to make big decisions with less stress and more intention

  • How to get ahead of decision fatigue in 30 minutes or less

  • How to answer the question “is this the right choice for me? Without fail

  • And where to get the feedback you need to make the best decision without getting overwhelmed


SEcret No. 1: get ahead of it

The first secret to making better big decisions is to get ahead of it with a weekly planning session.

Okay – you might be scratching your head thinking – how on earth is a weekly planning session, where I plan my week, meal plan and make a grocery list going to help me decide whether I should quit my job or hire someone in my business?

And that’s a great question.

Combat Decision Fatigue

Here’s the answer – When you have a big decision to make, you want to have the energy and the capacity to make it. And that means setting yourself up for decision-making success by combating decision fatigue.

Here’s a quick refresher on decision fatigue – there’s science behind this, but I’m going to spare you the textbook description and keep it simple. Think about the gas tank in a car.  We start each day with a full tank of decision making fuel. Every time we make a decision, we use up a little bit of that fuel. Big decisions use a lot of fuel, little decisions use a little fuel. But regardless throughout the day, our decision-making fuel gets lower and lower until we’re practically running on empty by the end of the day. And when you consider the fact that we’re making about 35K decisions each and every day – that’s a LOT of fuel that we use up.

HOW TO CONSERVE DECISION-MAKING FUEL

But – we have a few options for conserving that decision-making fuel.

That looks like cutting out unnecessary decisions, putting them on auto-pilot, or making a lot of little decisions when your tank is full – like at the beginning of the week. Having a weekly planning session does all of that. Doing a weekly planning session enables you to get a birds eye view of your week, identify potential obstacles before they happen, come up with solutions and make decisions ahead of time. They keep you from having to decide every single day what you’re having for dinner or who’s picking up the kids. And they help you intentionally preserve your decision-making fuel for the big decisions that really matter, so when you’re faced with a heavy choice – you’re able to bring as much clarity to as possible.

For a deeper dive into designing your own Weekly Planning Session, I’ve got two resources for you: Episode 4 takes you through the basics of a weekly planning session, and if you really want the step by step, you’ll want to get access to Get a Game Plan: Three Steps to Design Your Winning Week. Get a Game Plan is a quick, mini course that takes you through the process of setting priorities, designing your ideal week and creating your first weekly planning session!

Okay – so that’s how we play the long game and set ourselves up to avoid decision fatigue so we have the energy and the brain power to make those big decisions.

secret no. 2: core values

Next – if you’re faced with a big decisions, and you’re trying to figure out – Is this right for me? Is this the right move? Does this really align with who I am or is it just a shiny thing, a distraction? If I do this, will I regret it later?

It’s impossible to predict the future, so this is when it’s critical to Define, Know and Use your Core Values. 

Your Core Values are your fundamental beliefs. They’re the very root of who you are and what you believe in. Usually, they’re a small, curated collection of 5-7 words that represent what matters most to you. Having 5-7 means they’re easy for you to remember, and easy for you to reference or think of when you’re in decision-making mode.

Having too many core values is like that phrase – when everything is important, nothing is important.

Your core values represent who you are, they’re not just a long list of nice words that make you feel good.

If you’re curious, my core values are Authenticity, Intention, Curiosity, Courage and Legacy – and each one of those words has a special meaning for me – so anytime I’m faced with a new opportunity, I run that opportunity through the filter of my core values.

Does this opportunity align with my core values? Would it require me to act in opposition to any one of my core values? 

And if something feels off, then that’s gonna be a no from me.

To dive deeper into the topic of Core Values, I encourage you to head back to Episodes 21 and 22. In Episode 21, I talk about how knowing your core values can help you find your footing during a major shift in your priorities, since they’re the foundation that you’re built on. There’s also a free downloadable Core Values word bank in the shownotes for that episode with more than 125 core values words that you can use as inspiration as you’re choosing your own.

Then in Episode 22, listen in on my conversation with Sarah Joy Hays, owner of CounterSpace, a bakery in Baton Rouge. She shares how her core values influence every decision she makes within her business.

Full disclosure, I used to think that Core Values exercises were a dumb waste of time. I thought they were fluffy and they were a distraction from taking real action. What I didn’t realize is that your core values determine your action. They give your action direction – so if you’ve never taken time to define your core values – it is an absolute game changer. This is actually one of the first things that members of my new group coaching program, Next Level Life will do once they’re inside. It really sets the stage – the foundation –  for everything else.

secret No. 3: Your Kitchen cabinet

So if you’re feeling pretty confident that your big decision is in alignment with your core values, you still might benefit from an extra set of eyes. I know that I like to bounce ideas and have a sounding board when it comes to big decisions. But – Who do you ask? Who do you talk to about your Big Decisions so you can walk away with more clarity instead of more confusion.

The answer? Your personal Advisory Board, or your “Kitchen Cabinet.” You might know that I started my career on Capitol Hill, and “Kitchen cabinet” is what they call the president’s or really any elected official’s informal inner circle of advisors – not the official members of the Cabinet.

So why do you need your own kitchen cabinet? – Well for one, having a trusted circle of advisors keeps you from crowdsourcing feedback on important decisions from strangers on the internet. I’m a member of a few facebook groups that are hotbeds for advice seeking about anything and everything.

People asking,

“Should I accept this job offer?”

“Should I enroll my child in Montessori school or a technology-based program?”

“How much life insurance should I carry?”

“Should I homeschool?”

It might feel good in the moment to get lots of feedback, but there are some big pitfalls to this type of info-gathering. And I’m not saying all crowd-sourcing or asking questions in groups and forums is bad – I’m just suggesting that feedback on bigger, more important decisions should be reserved for a small group, and here’s why.

  • First. You can get obsessed with checking for new comments. Which is a huge time waster and productivity killer.

  • Second.  Strangers on the internet don’t know your life. They don’t know the backstory, they don’t know your family or your situation, and honestly they’re probably not experts at whatever you’re asking about.

  • Third – It creates some serious noise. Chances are you’re going to get lots of feedback, but it’s going to be a lot of conflicting feedback, which is only going to lead to more head-spinning confusion about what to do.

Who Should Be on Your Kitchen Cabinet?

Instead of crowdsourcing advice from strangers on the internet, curate your personal advisory board.

Here are some potential ideas for your Kitchen Cabinet. No single member is perfect, and each has their benefits and downsides, and that’s a big reason why it helps to have a few trusted people that you can rely on.

A TRUSTED FRIEND

First – A Friend – someone who cares about you and can be supportive, but know that because they care about you, they might not give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in order to spare your feelings. Unless your friend is an Enneagram 8, in which case brace yourself, because you’re probably going to get the truth whether you like it or not.

A MENTOR

Second, a Mentor. A mentor is typically someone in your industry that is further along than you on the same or a similar career path. In my case, an ideal mentor would be a fellow coach with more years of coaching experience. Having a mentor’s experience can be incredibly helpful, but the downside is that they may base their recommendations solely on their personal experience and advocate that their way is the best or only way.

PEER GROUP MEMBERS

Third would be members of a peer group. And when I say Peer Group – I mean that they’re in the trenches and in about the same stage of life or business that you’re in. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you know them through some kind of formal organization – just that you’ve got something significant and relevant in common with them. Here are some examples:

  • This could look like asking a fellow mom with a child the same age as yours about how she chose her child’s school.

  • This could look like consulting with fellow members of a business mastermind group and getting a second opinion on a new product line. I’m currently in a mastermind group hosted by Kat Schmoyer with three other women and their input is incredibly valuable as I’m making big changes inside my coaching business.

  • This could look like reaching out to someone with the same or a similar role in your industry who you know through a professional organization.

A CERTIFIED COACH

And finally, when you’re curating your Kitchen Cabinet, having a coach provides an unbiased sounding board for your thoughts as you weigh your options for the big decision.

This could be a life coach, a business coach. A financial coach, or a time management coach, like me.

NOT ALL “COACHES” ARE COACHES

Now, I hate to say this, but it’s important for you to know that there are a lot of people out there who call themselves coaches even though they haven’t been trained as coaches.

I’ve found that a lot of times people will use the word Coach because they like the way it sounds. Maybe it sounds friendlier than consultant, or more official than mentor.

But – coach training and certification is real, and if you’re looking to work with a coach, I highly recommend  working with someone who has been trained and certified. My certification is through the World Coaching Institute, and I’m working toward an additional certification from the International Coaching Federation.

Certified coaches are trained to ask powerful questions to help the person being coached make thoughtful decisions by uncovering potential blind spots and limiting beliefs. A good coach will help you have an “a-ha” moment and feel confident in your decision making. They may guide you by providing strategies or recommendations for success, but a good coach doesn’t jump in and just tell you what to do. A good coach knows that a one-size-fits all copy and paste solution doesn’t exist.

I was recently presented with a really exciting opportunity, and in order to make sure I didn’t get swept up in the excitement which could lead to a rash decision, I reached out to a small, select group to talk through different parts of the opportunity. This small group knew me, knew the subject matter, and knew things I didn’t. Limiting my feedback circle to this small group – to my kitchen cabinet – helped me feel more confident about my decision instead of swimming in a constant spiral of what should I do?

So there you have it – when you’re faced with a big decision, there’s more to getting to the right choice for you than making a Pro’s and Con’s list.

Start by getting ahead of it and conserving your decision-making fuel by doing a weekly planning session. Take time to define and know your core values so they can serve as your north star when it comes to making big decisions. And finally, curate your own personal kitchen cabinet made up of trusted friends, mentors, peers, and consider adding a coach to the mix for a truly unbiased sounding board. When you have these three secrets to better decision-making in your back pocket, you’ll be able to approach life’s biggest decisions with confidence, clarity and intention.

Your challenge

In the next week, I challenge you to take action on one of these three secrets.

  • Do your first weekly planning session.

  • Define your core values.

  • Make a list of who belongs in your kitchen cabinet.

Whichever you choose – your action item is to choose one, and make it happen!


next level life

You’ve listened to the episodes, and you’ve implemented what you’ve learned here and there – but what if you could work directly with me, alongside a tight-knit community of like-minded, ambitious women to take yourself, your business, your career to the next level?

Whether you’re growing your empire as a small business owner, or you’re climbing the latter and shattering glass ceilings, you’re invited to be a founding member of Next Level Life.

Weekly coaching sessions, a growing lesson library, private community and so much more – Next Level Life is the balanced approach to wholehearted living that you’ve been looking for, with me by your side for accountability, encouragement and motivation. 

In the last year I’ve coached 22 women on their path to living with more confidence, clarity and intention by helping them make the most of their time. Time is our most precious nonrenewable resource, and the one thing all of my clients have in common is that they want to live fulfilling lives with no regrets.

They want to grow their business, but also take vacation.

They want to get promoted, without sacrificing time with their families.

They want to work full time, go to grad school and still have the space to travel.

If that sounds like you, then I’d be honored to have you as a Founding Member of Next Level Life. Join the waitlist.


LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Next Level Life: Join the Waitlist to get all the details on this brand new coaching community for busy, ambitious women who want MORE out of life.

Take back your time spent doing laundry with Hampr and save 50% on your membership with the code ABOUTTIME50

Episode 4: How to Set Yourself Up for Success with a Weekly Planning Session

Episode 21: Finding Your Footing Through a Priority Shift: How to Do the Next Right Thing

Episode 22: How to Build a Core Values Driven Life and Business with Sarah Joy Hays

Get a Game Plan: 3 Steps To Design Your Winning Week

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