5 Ways to Make Hard Decisions a Little Easier

Yesterday, my wife Missy woke up with her stomach in knots. Clara, the woman who’d been cleaning our house for the past two years, was becoming more and more unreliable. Sometimes she called to say she’d be late – but sometimes she just didn’t show up at all. Not only that, but she was doing a terrible job.

“I should probably fire her,” Missy said. “Then again… she’s been working for us for a long time. And she used to be so good. Maybe if I talk to her…”

Missy knew she had to do something about this problem, but had been procrastinating for weeks. And watching her agonize over it got me thinking about “tough” decisions – the kind we all struggle with.

It seems to be easier to keep putting them off… but that just prolongs the discomfort.

Whenever I’ve had a decision weighing on my mind, it’s kept nagging at me. But when I finally made the hard call, it was never as bad as I had worked it up to be. In fact, I’ve found that the longer you chew on it, the worse it gets.

Thinking back, there are two vivid examples that spring to mind…

Breaking Away From My Dad’s Business…

One of the biggest decisions I ever had to make was whether or not to leave my father’s business. I started working with him when I was 14. And I fully intended to stay with him and help grow the company – a medical equipment sales and service business. But I got the “itch” to go on my own in 1998.

That’s when I started experimenting with information marketing.

At first, I spun off of my dad’s business by selling information to plastic surgeons on how to get more patients. And my dad was pretty flexible. He let me use his office as my home base while I was still working for him. Then he let me take Fridays off so I had more time to work on my own projects.

The idea that I was somehow “betraying” him and the family business was eating me up. I knew my heart was no longer into it, and I had to break away. My dad expected me to work with him side-by-side until he retired. But I couldn’t continue to live my life based on someone else’s expectations. I had to do what was right for me. So, nine years ago, I made the decision to leave the company.

Looking back, it was by far the best decision I ever made for my financial future.

Attending My First Seminar…

To get my business off the ground, I had been learning a lot about direct marketing. And when I got an invitation to a copywriting seminar in Phoenix, I was tempted. This was back in October 1998. But because the seminar was so expensive, I almost passed up this opportunity that I later realized was the turning point in my business (and bank account).

My fledging information marketing business had been pulling in maybe $2,000 or $3,000 per month. No great shakes. So I was understandably hesitant to spend several thousand dollars and miss several days of work (both of which I couldn’t afford) in order to attend the seminar.

My dad thought I would be a fool to go. He chided me (in his thick Russian accent) “Mr. Yanik, why do you want to throw away your money. If you have so much of it, I can help you get rid of it. Don’t you already have enough of these books and tapes?”

But I bit the bullet and went. Another tough – but smart – decision.

Frankly, if I had listened to my dad, I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. I can directly trace the moment when everything “clicked” for me and I “got it” to that seminar. That’s when I discovered the power of how to use words and turn them into cash windfalls.

I’ve found that people regret things they don’t do much more than things they do. That’s not how I want to live my life – brooding over “shouldas” “couldas” or “wouldas.”

In fact, I believe that most of our “tough” decisions aren’t really so tough. But the longer it takes for us to get off the fence and take action, the more we magnify them in our own heads.

With that in mind, here are five simple things to try when you are having trouble making a decision:

Decision-Making Method #1: Think about the worst-case scenario.

What is the worst possible thing that can happen if you make the wrong decision? It almost certainly won’t happen – but even if it does, you can probably live with it. When I was torturing myself over going off on my own, for example, I had wild thoughts of my father disowning me. Of course, he didn’t do that. He may have been disappointed, but he didn’t flip out.

Decision-Making Method #2: Listen to your gut.

This is huge! Don’t try to rationalize your way out of making the decision. You’ve got good instincts. Take advantage of them.

Decision-Making Method #3: Give yourself a deadline.

If you give yourself an indefinite amount of time to decide on a course of action, you’ll never do it. Not to mention, you’ll drive yourself crazy! Think of yourself as the high-powered CEO of your own life – an executive who MUST make decisions quickly.

Decision-Making Method #4: Visualize your ideal outcome.

This is an exercise I learned from my friend John Harricharan. He calls it the “Power Pause.” It takes three minutes – one minute to think about what you want to happen… one minute to think about how good you’ll feel when it does happen… and one minute to calm yourself down by thinking about what you are already grateful for in your life.

Decision-Making Method #5: The Band-Aid solution.

You know how painful it can be to pull off a bandage (especially for those of us who are kind of hairy)? Well, the secret is to pull it off quickly. Nothing is worse than paralysis by analysis. You’ll never have all the information you need to make the perfect decision. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Then move on.

And here’s a bonus tip: When all else fails, flip a coin. That’s how I decided the time had come for me to propose to Missy!

By the way, in case you’re wondering what Missy decided to do about Clara… she gave her a call and simply told her we weren’t going to be able to use her anymore. Much to Missy’s surprise, Clara was relieved. It seems that there’s another family much closer to her own neighborhood that she’s been wanting to work for, and she was happy to have us free up a day for her.

There you go – all that angst and gut-wrenching turmoil could have been avoided simply by making the decision to fire Clara weeks ago.

[Ed. Note: As master Internet marketer Yanik Silver (www.internetlifestyle.com) says, a tough decision becomes a whole lot easier if you just bite the bullet and make it. Maybe you’ve been agonizing over whether now’s the time to start your own Internet business.]