Scary decisions lurk in the dark like the Bogeyman.
Am I making the right decision? What if I’m wrong? What if my decision negatively impacts myself, my colleagues, or my company?
This fear is normal. That means you're not a psychopath.
Every decision-maker at any level of experience or seniority feels it.
But there is a difference between acknowledging fear and letting it control you. Not every decision can be avoided. And delaying it won't make it less scary.
Confront your fear.
Decision ≠ Outcome
The scariest decisions have unpredictable outcomes that can never be entirely within your control. In other words, luck plays a big part.
Stoicism has a concept called the Stoic fork. In life, there are things you can control and things you can’t. There is no point focusing on things outside of your control. I know, easier said than done.
We don’t like making decisions because of our emotional attachment to their outcome. One way to overcome this is to consciously separate the decision from its outcome. It is OK to be emotionally attached to the decision itself because you have some control over it. But that's where you should draw the line. See the outcome as a potential bonus.
You can't control the outcome, so don't be attached to it. Again, I know. Easier said than done.
Trust the process
Confidence isn’t the same as trust in the process. Confidence is a feeling we get when we imagine that we have control over the outcome. – Seth Godin
What is within your control? Anything that comes before the decision. The decision process.
So do your homework. See decisions as problems to solve. Puzzles to piece together. Ask yourself
- What is the actual problem I'm solving? What does it mean to solve it? Why does it matter?
- Have I all the pieces I need? Can I get the rest?
- What would be the worst-case scenario? Would it be irreversible? Would I be OK with it?
- Is it a problem better poorly solved than left unsolved?
- Do I really want someone else solving it for me?
Decisions don't wait forever.
Perfect decisions don't exist, so don't look for them.
Sometimes, reducing uncertainty is enough.
Mistakes are part of the deal. Let them teach you
But don't let them happen. Make them intentionally.
Juggling is about throwing, not catching. If you throw well enough, the catching will take care of itself.
Decisions are about the decision process. The outcome will take care of itself.
You don't need to be confident. Just trust the process.
Grab your parachute and jump.