Simplify Choice and Excel Success (As a Brand)
One of the biggest challenges I see new entrepreneurs make is getting bogged down with choices.
- Which version of my logo (or headshot) should I choose?
- What online tools do I need?
- How do I build a funnel?
- How do I price my products and services?
- Where should I promote myself?
- Should I do video and if so, how do I do it?
These and many more decisions keep you busy and active, which feels productive but isn’t driving results. These professional people with many years of work experience get swayed by their environment and overwhelmed by all the choices.
As leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith says, “we get blindsided by our environment.” He explains that successful people run their environment, instead of reacting to all they encounter. “We must create our environment and not let it recreate us.” Creating it is a choice.
What happens when you need to make a decision? Do you get overwhelmed? Do you procrastinate? Do you get stuck overanalyzing? You’re in good company! All these words are in the responses I get when I ask other entrepreneurs these questions.
Why is Choice so Hard?
We live our lives in front of screens. We sit for hours where notifications bombard our senses minute-by-minute. We no longer need to leave our homes/offices to be exposed to advertising, it just pops up in front of us!
Steve Jobs created his environment by choosing to wear the same clothes daily so he could focus on more important choices. Decision fatigue is real, and it is part of being human. We inevitably experience a deteriorating quality in our decisions after making many of them. If we know that, we can choose to set ourselves up for success to overcome our environment.
Books like The Paradox of Choice point out how more choices don't help. The author warns us, “choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them” and “our obsession with choice” can contribute “to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret.”
However, what’s also true is we are hardwired to have autonomy – the ability to make choices of our own free will. As Dr. Alex Lickerman states in a Psychology Today article, “restrictions on our autonomy may lie at the heart of a great deal of our unhappiness.” He goes on to explain, “If we feel coerced by even an internal pressure like guilt or shame …our feeling of autonomy vanishes.”
What’s more, our effectiveness declines without choice. As author of The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar shares about one of her social experiments, “If their choice was dictated by another, their performance suffered.”
So... To choose or not to choose, is that even the question?
Not really, no.
The truth is we must make choices all day, and sometimes that includes difficult decisions. We can’t escape it – and as leaders and business owners, we need it.
I recall in my marketing career working for a director who had worked with his team, of at least 5 people, on a marketing campaign which included billboards, print ads, video ads and more. He spent days, maybe weeks, working with the team on it. Then one night he took it home to his wife, got her input and suggestion for more options, only to return to the team to relay her feedback. They had to start over! It was not a choice that set him up to be viewed as a leader.
We need to have choice in the decisions we make but we also need to plan for our success by eliminating too many options.
How to Make Decisions Easy:
Making decisions with your choice in mind can be easier. Consider the following four tips:
- For one, it’s all about elimination. Organizational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Hardy reminds us of the totalitarian principle which states that, “everything that’s not forbidden is compulsory.” When you remove options as possibilities you make decisions easier. When you pack your lunch the night before, all you need to do is grab it and go in the morning.
- Another approach to simplifying choice is to use a decision tree. Write down your 2 or 3 of your options. For example, should I: Option A. Promote Bob or Option B. Hire from outside? Then write down what happens next on either of those options and so on. As you write possibilities, your choice becomes clearer.
- You could also consider working with a coach or creating a council. Having a coach allows you to verbally explore options without judgement. It’s a safe place to explore possibilities and stay on track with your goals. You might also create a leadership council of people you trust but beware: they’re likely not trained coaches and may inadvertently eliminate your choices.
- Another tip to use when making decisions is something author Jack Canfield calls somatic decision making. It also could be referred to as the sway test, muscle testing or heart-led decision making. This is the idea that your intuition knows the answer better than your brain. To do it, stand up and say aloud, “forward means yes and backward means no.” Then ask yourself the yes/no question. Whether you believe in this technique or not, if you try it, you’ll likely have a reaction or opinion to the answer you get.
Final thoughts to move forward…
Our choice set us up for the most success when it comes from within. We may gather informational or seek opinions or advice externally but at the end of our research, we must decide.
There isn’t a 100% “right” way to choose. It’s all an experiment. Your environment is more powerful than your willpower. It influences you. So, what’s influencing your choices? Have you planned to create your environment? Get some clarity on this and more, sign up for a free hour with me and we’ll get you on track!