How to boost your decision making and stop talking yourself out of growth
Have you ever noticed how decisions get harder the longer you leave them?
And how sometimes you make a decision - and then pick your thoughts apart until your talk yourself out of it?
(And let’s not forget about beating yourself up for being indecisive afterwards.)
You come up with an exciting idea – only to mull it over so much that nothing ends up happening. Or you decide to go for something, only to pull out at the last minute as, ‘it’s not the right time’.
If so, I hear you. It happens to all of us now and then.
But some of you know that if there was an award for ‘professional over-thinking’ – you’d be first in line for the prize. And if you class yourself as a perfectionist, you’d probably win it twice over.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being considered – weighing up pros and cons is an important part of the decision-making process, but..
Getting stuck in your own head is one of the biggest barriers to action and one of the most common forms of self-sabotage there is.
When you’re a female founder, the effects of this self-doubt cycle are amplified. It can seriously hamper your ability to progress, because it runs contrary to everything you need to run a thriving business.
This is because:
- It wastes shed-loads of your most precious and finite resource – time. (Which limits your capacity to make profit.)
- It reduces your self-trust and your sense of worthiness. (This in turn fuels the dreaded impostor syndrome.)
- It continually reinforces the deep-rooted belief that you’re just not quite good enough and feeds the need for external validation.
- It hampers your ability to respond and react quickly to changing market conditions or circumstances.
- It hits your resilience as when things don’t go to plan as you’ll beat yourself up over your past decisions rather than seeing the opportunities for growth.
The truth is, you can’t boss your own business if you’re not thinking or behaving like the boss!
So your decision-making prowess (or lack of it) deserves your time and attention, especially if it’s sabotaging/slowing your progress, or you’re struggling and you don’t know why.
My brilliant coachee, Anna, is a shining example of what can happen when you turn it around.
Anna freely admits she would argue with herself over pretty much everything, although at the time she classed herself as ‘cautious’. (A bit like that old chestnut of the pessimist calling themselves a ‘realist’.)
She described her head as a ‘constant battle ground’ and she found running her business increasingly draining – not least as every launch or new idea was taking months to execute, and that’s if it saw daylight at all.
Anna even waited for months before booking a call with me as she was nervous about what it would entail. When she finally did speak with me, she decided we were a great fit and (unusually for her) asked to jump straight into my first tier of hybrid coaching, so I sent her the sign-up details.
And that was the last I heard from her - for over three weeks!
The day before we were due to start, Anna surprised us both by signing up to the programme (I had to make a space for her by that point as I had offered her spot to someone else!).
It turns out Anna had been having a mega-case of the jitters and had been arguing with herself non-stop about signing on the dotted line.
'What if I can't make it work?'
'There's so much on right now in my business..'
‘The kids are so expensive, I can’t afford to spend money on me..'
But it wasn’t about caution, it was about confidence.
Deep-down, she was scared that she didn't have it in her to really make changes she wanted. She was fearful of disappointing herself and her family and of being judged for using precious family resources that could have been spent on her kids.
As it turned out, once Anna found the courage to decisively bet on herself, she made leaps and bounds within her business in a very short period of time. I’m not saying it was easy – growth never is – but she saw the value of her decision and went straight through into my second tier of hybrid coaching. Her business turnover has now doubled in less than a year and she's hired her first full-time member of staff.
The truth is this – YOU are the most predictable investment. Always. Once you can get control of your brain..
Here's the rub..
The conscious and subconscious bits of your brain like to fight!
Your logical brain knows what you need to do and it's excited at the prospect of doing something new and positive. It believes that you can, and it wants you to go for it.
But your unconscious brain hates change. It prefers to focus on your limits, the potential pitfalls and all the things that could go wrong if you do something different.
Yup, this is self-sabotage at its finest and purest form.
But let me tell you this..
Your unconscious brain will virtually always win out, unless you develop the skills to stop it!
It’s like pitching an alpha-male lion against a new-born cub in a fight. There’s no contest.
But once the cub grows and gains strength, expertise and experience. Then who’s more likely to win? The old lion or the fresh young contender?
In order to create meaningful change, you have to get a grip of what’s happening in your brain.
You might find yourself in those mental battles where you talk yourself out of the good stuff, but as long as you know what your brain is doing and why, it makes it easier to stop the self-sabotage and take decisive action.
Always remember that in both life and business, you’re much more likely to regret the things you haven’t done over the things you have. You can always make a change or move in a different direction, but you can’t go back and revive the opportunities that died a death because you talked yourself out of them.
So how can you start to get a better handle on your brain and boost your decision-making prowess?
1) Know that there is no such thing as the ‘right time’.
The ‘right time’ is a fallacy. Firstly, it’s subjective. But secondly, it presumes you have control over all the variables in your life. Sadly, you don’t – none of us do.
Just look at Covid or the war in Ukraine. All of them have had a significant impact on our lives and businesses that we couldn’t have predicted even in the days before they happened.
All that’s guaranteed is the here and now. Yes, things can always go wrong. But they can also go right. And they are much more likely to go well if you trust yourself to deal with them in a resourceful manner instead of questioning every move you make.
So try swapping waiting for ‘the right time’ for the mantra ‘now is my time’ and you’ll find yourself procrastinating less, doing more and building up the evidence of what you are capable of.
2) Know that you can’t think yourself into confidence.
Confidence is about turning your thoughts and ideas into positive, consistent action. You cannot think yourself confident, it takes as much doing as it does processing.
So, if you find you spend more time in your head than you spend taking action, start to focus on the one decisive thing that you can do each day to start to break the habit.
You want to book that course? Then book it right now. You want to launch that offer? Then don’t wait until you have the finer details mapped out – go and speak about your idea on social media whilst it’s fresh in your head.
3) Commit out loud.
Speaking of speaking, share your thoughts and ideas with others (but be mindful to share with those who radiate a ‘can do’ attitude over those who drain your enthusiasm away or are also prone to overthinking). When you doubt yourself, this often feels like a heavy step, but it’s totally necessary.
Committing to things out loud significantly increases your chances of making them happen. It gives you an impetus you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can even find that sharing your thoughts leads to their creative development. (This happens all the time with my own coach – I’ll go in with a spark of an idea and I come out with a full-blown plan.)
4) Dampen down the emotion and create more space.
When you’re acting from a place of fear or deep emotion, your decision-making ability tends to be compromised. (Ever chastised your kids in the heat of an argument and then felt guilty for being too heavy-handed once it all calmed down? Or blown your healthy eating by scoffing an entire packet of biscuits after a bad day?)
Although our decisions are almost always led by our emotions, when the emotions run high, you’re much more likely to behave in a way that serves your immediate needs at the expense of your longer-term progress.
When you’re aware of this, you can create some space and balance between the emotions you and the decisions you make.
5) Focus on facts, not fiction.
When your brain runs away with you, you’ll inevitably start thinking about the negative ‘what ifs’..
You’ll tell yourself stories about what ‘could’ happen. You may start mind-reading other people’s thoughts and feelings instead of dealing with with what you know to be true or the facts as they stand right now. So, step back and see it for what it is.
This is your subconscious brain doing its thing and trying to convince you that what you are capable of now is no more than what you were capable of before.
But understand that all of it is your choice.
You can choose to do the same old thing and think, feel and do what you did before. Or you can choose a different route. The only person who gets to decide is YOU!
If this is something you’re struggling with, then jump on my ‘Elevate!’ hybrid coaching or let’s have a complimentary chat. Just like Anna, you can break through to the next level when you finally make the decision to bet on yourself and do things differently,