Humans are complicated things. We have some unique qualities that make us human.
Our brains are amazing. More amazing than we know.
Our hands are flexible and have a powerful grip. Humans can extend their thumbs to touch their pinky finger; animals (even those with opposable thumbs) can’t.
Humans wear clothes (most of us!) and we blush. Both uniquely human traits.
Another human trait is to have second thoughts. To doubt our decisions. To be confused.
The eagle, however, is never confused. The eagle knows its purpose, its calling and its limitations. It simply trusts its instincts and rules the sky.
What about you? Do you trust your instincts or find yourself constantly second-guessing your decisions?
Worse yet, do you find yourself “locked up” and unable to make a decision and move forward?
If you answered yes, you are not alone.
According to the APA, second guessing is chronic. And harmful.
So how can we put away self-doubt and move toward easy decisions that are high quality and work well in our lives?
I believe there are four keys.
1. Trust Your Instincts
Humans are born to be learning machines. We are constantly learning, whether we take time to realize it or not.
If you can swim or tie your shoes or drive a car then you are a learning machine. All of these are learned by trial and error.
The good news? All skills can be learned. In fact, all skills are learned. While some have higher natural aptitude that others, even the “natural born” ones learn and polish their skill.
So step 1 is to trust yourself. One way to do that is to list, and regularly review, your accomplishments.
Forget your failures for a moment (we all have them) and take time to make an actual list of your successes. Then review it once a week.
This will do you more good than mere words can convey.
2. Realize You Were Born To Win
It’s true – you were born to win! Inside you right now are the seeds of character traits that will help you become all that you want to be.
But it’s up to you to recognize and develop them. That’s why reading books and taking courses on self development is so important.
If you need a place to start I recommend Zig Ziglar’s Born to Win: Find Your Success Code. You will love it!
3. Know That Not All Choices Will Be Good Ones
Life sometimes hurts. We make bad choices. Others make bad choices that hurt us. We have all had these experiences.
It has often been said that what happens to you matters less than how you respond to what happens to you.
That statement carries a lot of power!
Another statement that carries power is this – “Will this bad decision matter 5 years from now?”
Some will, some won’t. Being able to know the difference, and respond accordingly, helps the hurt go away.
We all make bad choices but we don’t all forgive ourselves. Forgive yourself for being human and life gets better day by day.
4. Develop A Decision Making Method
Having a method of making decisions is incredibly helpful in life. Sometimes we just “know” that a choice is the right one and we move ahead with confidence.
But there are other times, many times, where we don’t really know which choice is the right one for us.
In times like this it is helpful to have a decision-making template.
Here are three that work well.
Ben Franklin Method
Ben Franklin was a genius. If you have not read his autobiography then consider it this very week!
One thing Ben used, and taught, was a method of decision making that took emotion out of the way. Very helpful that.
When I was a tiny tiny salesman I learned this as the “Ben Franklin T Square Close”.
Here’s how it works.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left write “Yes” and on the right write “No”.
Now make a list on the left of reasons to move ahead and list on the right reasons to not move ahead.
One tip – make your lists at different times. You might find that you have loads of reasons on one side of the ledger based on the emotion of the moment. Making your lists at different times helps focus on both the logic and the emotion of decision making.
Your Mastermind Group
If you have a group of trusted advisors they can help you make a final decision.
Having such a group is powerful and more helpful than you can imagine. But developing such a group takes time.
The idea of a mastermind group has been around for a very long time. But today’s culture has watered down both the meaning and use of such a group.
More than brainstorming or consulting, a true mastermind group can focus all its energy on the success of any one member of the group.
Each member gets a turn of course, but groups where that level of focus and being other-centric are rare.
If you can, find or create a mastermind group very soon.
Remember my advice earlier to list and review your accomplishments? This is where that comes in handy.
The fact is, you have lived a life full of good decisions. Were they all perfect? No. Will they ever be perfect? Not on this earth!
But you are well-practiced at good decision making, and just knowing that will help you make good decisions going forward.
So I end where I started – two simple words. Trust yourself.
The more you can do that the more good decisions you will make, and the more action you will take toward reaching your goals.
And reaching goals – well that’s a beautiful thing indeed!