Making decisions with confidence

This is day 3 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Making decisions can be really tough.

Sometimes you lack experience in the subject matter of the decision you’re about to make. Other times, the experiences you’ve had in the past led to different outcomes, so you’re not sure which direction to take.

Sometimes you have no data upon which to base your decision. Other times, you have too much data.

Sometimes no one can empathize with your situation. Other times, everyone has an opinion.

The act of making the decision can be really hard, but what may be more difficult is anticipating and dealing with the consequences of your decision.

You might fear what people think of and how they’ll react to your decision.

You might be scared of the results of your choices.

These thoughts and fears might make you think twice about your choices.

But the doubters, naysayers, and people who disagree aren’t going away, and they’re not going to change anytime soon.

And the potential consequences aren’t going to change just because you’re second guessing yourself.

So you need to make decisions with as much confidence and conviction as possible, and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

You should be able to accept that you might make a wrong decision and that failure is an option. And you need to be able to deal with it, learn from it, and apply these learnings to future decisions.

This applies regardless of whether your decision has to do with work or your personal life.

Let’s take a personal life example. My wife Vicky and I are first-time parents and when our baby Maya was a couple of months old, we had no idea what to do to get her to fall asleep.

We had no prior experience in this situation. We read scores of forums, blog posts, and books about how to get your baby to sleep and they all proposed different solutions. We spoke with other parents and they all had their own opinion.

We just had to make a decision, implement a solution (let her cry herself to sleep!) and prepare for the consequences.

Maya might cry herself to sleep in 10 minutes. Or she might cry all night.

We were prepared to deal with the consequences, and if they were negative, we would accept it and move forward. There was no point of overthinking the decision.

The same goes for work decisions.

Maybe you’re deciding on what approach to take and what to charge a potential customer for your services. You assess similar projects in the past, the size of the company, budget he or she may have, the data you’ve gathered from past phone calls and emails, and the other vendors this prospect is looking at.

You might win the project, which would be awesome. You would get praise and some bucks in your pocket.

Or you might lose the project to a competitor, which would suck. Your boss and colleagues will be disappointed, you might not make your quota, and your pocket will be empty.

At some point, you just need to pull the trigger and be prepared to deal with the consequences. You can’t control what happens after you send off the proposal. If you put in the work and thoroughly thought through the problem, you should be confident in your proposal and the decision you made. The rest is out of your hands.

Most importantly, you need to be able to learn from all of your decisions, regardless of whether you were right or wrong.

It’s a cumulative thing, too. The more confidence you have in your decisions, the less you’ll second-guess yourself, and you’ll have more confidence in making your future decisions.