This article was posted on Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012

Wow! Sometimes it’s really difficult to make a decision.  All of us have to make them every day.  From what to wear in the morning to life-changing decisions pertaining to job or relationship changes, decision making is essential to our lives.  Yet, for a lot of us decision-making can leave us dumbfounded. 
Over the years, I have received a lot of advice from Dad on making decisions, some from his own wisdom and some passed on from others.
Most of the stress of decision making comes from fear…fear of being wrong or of making a mistake.  When you begin to look at all the opportunities and possibilities we have in life, it can be overwhelming trying to find that perfect solution for what we’re trying to accomplish.  By remembering that once a decision is made we have the power to do right with it, we can let go of the fear of choosing wrong.

Under what conditions would you be willing to live the decision?
After 11 years of working in the family business, burned out and interested in other pursuits, I gave notice I was leaving the company.  Around that time, Dad had a health scare and requested I stay on.  I didn’t want to.  Specifically, he asked, “Under what circumstances would you relocate to Flagstaff and run our portfolio?”  I made my list and he made his.  Eight years later, here I am, having never regretted my decision to stay.  Dad taught me that it’s okay to set my boundaries and ask for what I want.  Sometimes the “conditions” are non-negotiable, and sometimes they are flexible.
I’ve learned to use this approach at work too.  A valued employee recently gave notice. I was able to save her by asking “under what circumstances” she would stay.  Turned out what she needed wasn’t unreasonable.  While it was of high value to her, it was not a significant cost to me.

Few decisions are irrevocable.
Very few decisions cannot be reversed, unwound or mitigated.  Sometimes there is a cost to changing a decision, but if that cost is less than following through with a bad decision, make the change.  For example, if you are hesitating to make an offer on a home remember you have an inspection period in which to cancel the contract.  Or of even more concern to some of us, if you’re concerned about a new hair style, remember it will grow!

If you understand and can live with the worst case scenario, take the risk and go for it!
When faced with one of the more challenging life decisions, get some help to analyze it.  Interview others who have made similar decisions. Understand the risks and chance of failure.  Once you have that information, describe the worst case scenario.  For me this means writing out the “what if’s”.  I don’t do this with a fatalistic attitude, but rather with the thought that if I can come up with a consequence that I cannot live with, I will decide not to pursue the opportunity.  For me the worst case scenarios may have some financial consequence, but really it usually comes down to pride or fear of failure.  Once I see that failing won’t kill me, making a decision that could lead to failure really isn’t all that scary.
So, decisions, decisions, decisions.  The need to make them will never end. However, it seems that when I can look at my business and personal decisions in the context of Dad’s advice, I am able to reduce the emotional charge surrounding any decision, take a step back and evaluate opportunities rationally.  So go make that decision you’ve been putting off and make it right.  As Charles Tremendous Jones said, “You have your whole life to do it in.”

Amy R. Smith is a principal in Bella Investment Group, LLC, an asset and property management company based in Northern Arizona.  She has 20 years of experience in real estate investment and management. Reprinted with permission.

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