“But the cure for most obstacles is, Be decisive” – George Weinberg
Hey friends, James Jnr here from The Coaching Room. In this E-Book you will learn how to cut through procrastination and make more powerful decisions, that are considered, systemic and effective with 15 easy to read tips.
These tips represent a combined 30 years of NLP training and leading edge effectiveness when it comes to decision making. Try them on for yourself and see how they facilitate decisiveness with ease. These NLP tips have allowed me to cut through procrastination, take action, and make more informed decisions. I look forward to you enjoying the same results.
Tip # 1 – Good and bad decisions only exist in hindsight
NLP Tip number 1 is to relax around your decisions and trying to make the “right” one. Good and bad decisions only exist in hindsight. You have never woken up in the morning and thought “hmm today I feel like making bad decisions”. You are always making the best decision you can, with the information and understanding available to you, at the time.
Even when you look back and say “what was I thinking? I should have known better” you are just teasing yourself because in the moment that you made that decision you didn’t know better.
It is only in hindsight that we can look back and approve/disprove but you can’t make decisions in the past, you can only make them now.
Tip # 2 – Even in hindsight a decision can only be “good” or “bad” depending on far back you look
This NLP tip is best highlighted with a story of an old Taoist farmer:
There is an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” said the farmer.
Ultimately you cannot know if a decision was “good” or “bad” until you are on your deathbed. Only then can you evaluate the full extent and impact of its value (if you really wanted to spend your last moments doing so). So this tip is to live a life of decisiveness and worry about bad decisions when you’re dead.
Tip # 3 – You can’t know the future so let go of trying
In my experience executive coaching and in NLP trainings many people procrastinate with their decisions by trying unsuccessfully to predict the future. Consideration and a degree of research may indeed be appropriate for some decisions, particularly important ones, but ultimately you can’t know and will never know what’s going to happen until you act.
This goes hand in hand with the next NLP tip.
Tip # 4 – Every decision provides feedback
There is a powerful NLP presupposition which states “there is no failure, there is only feedback”. Whilst you cannot predict the future, every decision and action you take produces a result, which gives you direct feedback. With direct feedback you have more of an understanding of what worked well, and what didn’t. In other words, you have the power to make a more informed next decision.
Here is a generalized example – new CEO’s are often tasked with deciding the future direction of their company. They take over from a previous CEO and the whole company looks to them to steer the way forward. Their decisions have huge implications for the company. For many there is a strong temptation to want to avoid making a bad decision and to gather information and research to make sure that their direction is sound. So they wait, and wait, and wait, gathering market cues and data before they move. Whilst prudent, at some point the market and opportunity move on and so too does the competition. More agile competition who take action, perhaps even poorly, are able to receive feedback and take action again. Get feedback, take action again, allowing them to adapt, and adapt, leaving the procrastinators well behind.
This tip is to embrace action. With every consecutive decision you make, however seemingly “bad” some may have been, you increase your knowledge and ability to adapt.
Tip # 5 – Embrace your fallibility
Nothing engenders procrastination and indecisiveness like perfectionism and a fear of making mistakes. The thing is, you will always make them. It’s impossible to predict the future and it’s also impossible to avoid being human. You aren’t perfect, and being a human being means being fallible. If you are able to embrace your fallibility 100% then the possibility of making a mistake has no hold on you. Because you are going to make them, and that’s okay.
This tip is to give yourself permission to be human, to be fallible, and to make mistakes. You can always correct course as you go, you can’t correct course however without “going” (taking action).
Tip # 6 – Realise that not making a decision is still a decision
So long as you are alive you cannot not take action. You are always taking action. To live is to move. Even when you decide “not” to do something, what that means is you are just doing something else instead. One of the traps of decision making is procrastinating on the basis that the cost of the decision seems high, and only looking at the cost of moving forward. Maybe the cost is high. But mature decision making is considering what is the cost of not making the decision, of not moving forward?
This tip is to realise that waiting and not making a decision is a decision in itself, which is okay, so long as it is the decision you are consciously making.
Tip # 7 – Make decisions from the right state
Here is another generalization – ever notice that when you are feeling good you tend to make good decisions? And when you are feeling bad you tend to make bad decision? In NLP trainings you learn that your state grounds your thinking and your behaviour. If you are in an unresourceful state your thinking and your behaviour will be influenced by it, and you are much more liable to become unresourceful as well.
For example – Many a time in my earlier years in the heat of an argument I found my anger speaking my words for me, and saying things that did nothing but make the situation worse (maybe you can relate). Decisions that seem to make sense when you are in an unresourceful state can look ridiculous when you are calm and present again.
This NLP tip is take make decision from the right state. If you are feeling angry, upset, depressed, sad, afraid, frustrated etc you are much more liable to make a reactive decision rather than an informed, considered, choice based decision.
Tip # 8 – Know your intentions
There are two ways to live – Intentionally or Attentionally. Living intentionally means you know what you intend. When you know your intentions they act like filters on your attention and they filter in the decisions that are designed to bring you closer to achieving your intentions. They also filter out decisions that are just distractions.
For example one of my intentions is to be free from all psychological suffering. This intention has guided my decisions to learn and teach NLP, to apply my learning’s to myself, to read, to engage in practices and in my development. It has meant saying yes to years of practice and investment in my own learning and embodiment and saying no to the other things I could have done in that time. Living intentionally is living life on purpose.
When you don’t live intentionally you live attentionally. Living attentionally means that your attention rather than being focused on what’s truly important to you, is focused on whatever happens to occur in the environment. Animals and small children live attentionally. My dog’s attention is a slave to the environment – he will drop whatever he is doing the moment I walk into the room, throw a ball, or another animal walks past etc (and rightly so! he is a dog, but you aren’t!).
Making decisions without knowing what you intend is like straightening deck chairs on the titanic.
Tip # 9 – The most informed decisions are systemic
When making decisions there are always four components of reality to consider:
- How do I feel about this?
- How will any others involved feel about this?
- What will be the objective impact of this decision (for me) as I look at it? What will I need to do?
- How does this decision objectively impact and functionally fit with my environment?
Most people have a habit and preference for thinking in terms of one maybe two of those components and tend to neglect the others. Neglecting any is a recipe for disaster.
For example, let’s say you want to get fit and healthy. How successful will you be if:
- You ignore how you feel about it and your motivation for it?
- You ignore how your family, kids, partner etc feel about you spending that extra time away from home?
- You don’t both figuring out what actions and behaviours you have to do to get fit and healthy?
- You don’t consider how to fit in the time, the nutrition, the activities required, with your work, your family and any other requirements on your time and resources?
Powerful decision making and systemic thinking is considering all of those components in your decisions. For more on this check out The Ultimate Guide to Developing Wisdom.
Tip # 10 – Own your decisions – they belong to you.
“Someone can only drive you crazy if you give them the keys” – Colin Cox
You only control four things:
- Your thinking
- Your feeling
- What you say
- What you do
These are your four powers and only you control them, nobody else. The moment you say “you made me think/feel/say/do X,Y,Z” you are disowning your decisions and giving your power away. The moment you try and make someone think, feel, say or do something you are trying to control their four powers.
Either move is a recipe for stress. One is trying to control things that are outside your power, the other is giving up control for things that are.
This NLP tip is to be responsible for you. You may be responsible to others externally e.g. duty of care, societal laws etc., but you aren’t intrinsically responsible for what they decide to think, feel, do, or say. Phew what a relief, that’s a lot of work you can save yourself from having to worry about.
Tip # 11 – Choose Your Battles
Some decisions may require thought, consideration and research – like taking on a mortgage. Some decisions, like what brand of toothpaste you buy, generally speaking (medical issues aside) do not.
In the words of Jocelyn K. Glei “Ask yourself if this decision is really that meaningful. If it’s not, stop obsessing over it, and just make a call!”.
Tip # 12 – Know your criteria for success
It is impossible to know the value of a decision without knowing what your criteria for success is. One of the first questions I ask companies who are considering executive coaching or NLP training with The Coaching Room is “how would you know if we were the right company for you?”. The ones who are able to decide very quickly if they want to work with us or not are very clear on their criteria. The ones who take much longer lengths of time are not.
Success is such a generic word that ultimately it means whatever you make it mean. If you haven’t defined it for yourself however then it means nothing, and if you are chasing it, you aren’t really chasing anything.
Tip # 13 – Realise the real currency are your heartbeats, not your $$$
When you make decisions know that ultimately the most expensive component of them are the heartbeats they will require from you, not the money. You can always make more money, you’re heartbeats however are finite and will only ever become less over time.
Spending your life chasing money, or obsessing about how to prevent it’s loss, isn’t a life well lived if you are having to endure it rather than enjoy it.
This NLP tip is to ask not what this will do to/for my wealth, but what will this do to/for the quality of my life?
Tip # 14 – Make effective decisions, not comfortable ones
“Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch
Effective decisions aren’t always comfortable decisions. In my experience executive coaching and at NLP trainings (here’s another generalization) it is easier for people to make decisions they have made before, decisions that are within their comfort zone. It’s easy to get into a routine of familiarity, check emails rather than prospect for new business, humour your friend who wants to bore you to death with details, rather than have a to the heart conversation about how you really feel, make small talk with new people rather than open up etc. You get the idea. It’s easier, but not life changing.
Effective decisions are those few decisions that though potentially frightening, would make all the difference. Effective decisions go hand in hand with The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
This NLP tip is to take stock of your situation and ask – what is the one-two decisions here that would change everything, have the most impact, and make 80% of the other actions I was considering redundant?
If those decisions seem scary, note that so too once upon a time were all of the things in your comfort zone. Things become comfortable when they are familiar. Unfamiliar things become familiar only through exposure and action.
Tip # 15 – Engage with an Executive/Personal Coach
Your blind spots by the very nature are unknown to you, so how can you see what you are blind too? The answer is you can’t, not without help. To make truly effective decisions I recommend engaging a coach, one who is able to look at your thinking and decision making structure and see where it is focused habitually, and on the flipside where it is not. Our most pervasive habits are our habits of mind and they represent our greatest strengths as well as our greatest weaknesses.
For example – one of my strengths has been seeing situations objectively and having strong access to my own motivations and value. My weaknesses have been inconsistently considering how my decisions would impact the motivations of others and functionally fit in the environment. This made me a strong individual performer in my work roles, but a weak team player and leader. Working with my coach I have been able to hold a much more integrated and holistic perspective and really step into my own as an effective leader.
So this NLP tip if you want the ultimate development in your decision making prowess, is engage yourself a coach.
Well that’s it from me, until next time, I hope that this guide has facilitated some useful action points and ease with your decisiveness. Catch you next time.