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David FullerMy brother Rob recently walked 650 km from Galway, Ireland, to Winchester, England, en route to Spain.

He told me that for days he tried to decide whether to continue walking and take the ferry to France or go back home. He wasn’t sure where he was supposed to be. The indecision was taking a toll on him mentally and emotionally.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and changes in the workplace, leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and employees are finding themselves where they never expected to be a couple of years ago.

Plans for the future have changed drastically in some cases. Many people are wondering how they’re going to survive. Should they adapt to the current situation or change their plans, dreams and goals?

As Rob told me, “When you’re heading on a path you haven’t travelled before, it’s important to stop from time to time to figure out where you are and, if necessary, adjust your course or even your destination.”

Making decisions in a time of change can often be stressful. And the more we delay the decision, the more energy we spend in analyzing and trying to come up with the perfect plan.

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This isn’t to say we should make rash decisions to reduce the amount of time, energy and resources that we’re putting into making the best decisions. However, coming up with a decision will, in many cases, reduce your stress and anxiety about the future.

So how can we make decisions that will enable us to have less stress and better outcomes?

Set some criteria

Having some minimal and optimal criteria for making decisions enables us to make better decisions. Start with the end in mind. What is it that we want to accomplish?

Perhaps it’s less stress or a certain amount of cash in the bank. Maybe it’s better relationships or a better work-life balance.

Understanding the desired outcome can help us frame our decisions in a better light. 

List your options

Many times when I’m dealing with business leaders who face a serious decision about how to move their business forward, we start by listing our options.

The first option we discuss is always: Do nothing. What would happen if you decided just to be comfortable with the current situation?

Next, we want to brainstorm an exhaustive list of our other options. While this can take time, it shouldn’t prolong our pain for extended periods.

Research the pros and cons of each option. Once we have a list of options, we want to figure out the costs and benefits of each to enable us to see clearly what our choices are.

Pick your best option

In some cases, there may be a combination of options that will work best, but deciding on how you’re going to move forward is often more important than the option itself.

Make a plan

At this point, there’s probably some relief that you have some options and you’ve picked one that makes sense to you and your team in the current situation. Making a plan to implement the option will further help you move forward in the decision-making process.

Take the first steps to make the plan a reality

Nothing happens without action. Moving forward with your implementation will further reduce your stress.

Seeing the plan in action will help you toward achieving your goal of a better outcome. This takes determination.

Once we make a decision, reality starts to set in. In Rob’s case, he said that once he decided to head home, a shift happened, and with the mental adjustment, the choice wasn’t a problem anymore.

Decision-making can be difficult, especially in times of change. Yet no matter where you’re going, the only place you can start from is where you find yourself right now.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. This article was written with the help of Rob Fuller, MCS, at home in Galway. For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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