Looking for a simple method for making smarter, faster decisions? In this post and video, Michelle shares a three-part checkpoint that you can use to make the choices that will lead to prosperity in your business and life.
If you identify as an introvert, you already know that energy is a precious resource. And that you can easily become tired, just from thinking, especially when you are faced with a decision. The more time we spend pondering the best course of action, the more valuable brain power we use up. We can’t create more brain power, but we can become more efficient with it, leaving room for creativity, and space to think clearly. I’ll be sharing a trick on how to maximize brain power in a minute, but first, I want you to have a good understanding of what is at stake.
If you don’t have energy, you can’t make decisions
I have a long track record of choosing the wrong projects to focus on, and perhaps you do too. I once spent six months redesigning my website, shelling out a lot of money and even more of my time. Most of which was spent on inconsequential decisions like whether to use a green-blue or more of a teal-blue. With all of that brainpower dedicated to making selections, I didn’t have the energy for much else. Which means that I would let days go by without opening my email inbox, never mind responding to my messages.
During those six months, I missed out on sponsorship opportunities, sales, and worst of all, helping people who had put their trust in me. My priorities were so out of whack, and for what? I wanted to grow my business, and yet, I wasn’t saying yes, because I was too tired to even see that people wanted to work with me.
I knew that I had to make a change if I wanted to experience the success I desired and so, I got myself in check. And if I’m being honest, I still have to keep myself in check! So let’s hop into the three-part checkpoint that you can use to start making smarter decisions, with confidence.
Stop 1 to making smarter, faster decisions: Know your values
Why did you start your business? What is the reason that you choose to share your creative gifts with the world? What project are you currently working on, and what results are you hoping for? If you don’t have solid answers to these questions, you’re navigating through life without a GPS. You don’t even have printed directions from MapQuest.
It is really hard to get somewhere when you don’t even know where you’re going. It’s even more challenging if you don’t know why you’re going. To put this into simpler terms, you need to fuel your decisions with meaning. There’s nothing that will drive your actions more easily than an emotional response.
Let’s say that you see your kid running out into traffic. This is not a moment where you’ll use any brain power to deliberate your actions. You love your child, and you will do everything you can to keep them safe, and so you immediately spring into action to keep them from being hit by a car.
That action was driven by a strong value that you have. You love your child. End of story.
So this is where you can hack into maximizing your brain power. By converting more of your thoughts into values and therefore automating your decision making.
Not every value needs to be as noble as saving a life. I have a personal value that I like to stay in nice hotels when I travel. I need money to make that happen and so I will often dangle that carrot to keep myself on track. Had I used this tactic when I chose to spend six months on a website redesign, it would have been clear to me that spending hours in my Pantone book would not get me a room with a balcony and a view of the ocean.
What values are driving your decisions?
Before starting your next project, determine the value that’s driving it. In business, we often use money as a driver, but it’s a lot more powerful to know what you’re going to use that money for. Are you working to fund your kid’s college fund? Or saving up for a dream vacation? Or to support a charity?
And to really ensure that it’s the right driver for you, think about how you’re going to feel once you have that money to fund that dream. If you get a strong emotional response, you’re right on track. Stay as true to yourself as possible, so it really just becomes a reminder to trust your instincts.
Write down your values and keep them in a visible place. It can be as simple as keeping a post-it note on your computer monitor that says: Italy Trip 2021. If you want to go next level, you can create a Pinterest board that you revisit daily, or an in-person inspiration board, like the one I put together before my last Create with Confidence launch. On it are reminders of all the things that are driving me to stay on course: photos of furniture I want to buy for my office to make it feel more cozy, a pair of first-class airplane tickets, a check written out to a charity that I want to support, and a drawing from my niece— to remind me that the more money I make, the more freedom I will have to to spend time with my nieces and nephews.
Let’s take this first step together: share with me in the comments, the project that you’re working on right now, and the value that’s going to drive it. Don’t think too hard, and remember that your value doesn’t have to be noble, just something that stirs up an emotional response.
Stop 2 to making smarter, faster decisions: Back your decision with a belief
Nothing crushes dreams in the way that doubt does. And without the belief that your goals are attainable, you’ll end up with mixed results. Think of your belief as the chocolate chips in your chocolate chip cookies.
You can make the recipe without them, but then you’ll just have cookies. And the same goes for your conviction that everything is working in your favor. You’ll still get results, but they won’t be exactly what you were going for. You may earn enough money for a vacation, but not a dream vacation. Enough to build a desk for the charity that you wanted to support, but not an entire school.
Everyone is capable of achieving all of the results that we can dream up. We don’t need to sell ourselves, or others short. Back your dreams will full-fledged beliefs so that you will get full-fledged outcomes. And the way to do this is to take action with conviction.
To make decisions with all the confidence that whatever you choose is going to lead to prosperity.
The danger in doubting
The opposite of this is operating from a lack mindset. In thinking, there’s not enough business to go around, that you’re not good enough, that your customers don’t have money to spend on what you’re selling. All of these thoughts can be damaging, depressing and will have a negative impact on you and your success. Chocolate chip-less cookies, or maybe burnt cookies.
The next time you are faced with a decision, you first ask yourself, is this in alignment with my values? Is this going to lead to me feeling good? If the answer to those questions are yes and yes, then you can move forward with confidence. Even, if and when, a few days later, you feel like you may have made a mistake. That you made the wrong decision. This is a little tricky because you can’t be a perfectionist here. You have to be willing to trust that your choices may lead you to some unexpected places, but will ultimately put you exactly where you want to be.
Trusting your instincts
Here’s a quick story that I think you’ll be able to relate to. Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to begin public speaking at industry events. I had a strong value backing it: to share my inspiring message with more people, while getting to use writing and presentation skills— two things that I love. Immediately, a certain conference came to mind. This will be a perfect place to start, I thought. It felt kind of safe, like, it was a little bit smaller, some of my peers had spoken at past events, and I thought it would be very attainable. So I applied to speak at it, with confidence that it was going to work out.
But it didn’t work out. I never heard back from them. And things like this happen ALL THE TIME. We open the doors to our online stores, and there are no customers. Launch new products that nobody buys. Host online events and the only people to show up are our friends. These moments feel like indicators that we’re going the wrong way, or that make us think that there’s something wrong with us, or that we’re not good enough for it to work.
The mindset needed to make smarter decisions
An abundance mindset is your antidote. You keep saying yes, even when you’re in doubt. It was the mindset that I had when I made the decision to apply to speak at a different conference. This one felt out of reach. It was bigger, higher profile, and I didn’t have a great track record. I had no experience and a rejection. The data was saying one thing but my heart said something else: you really want this. Keep going for it.
And this time, it did work out. I was accepted to speak, and of course I was elated, and to be honest a bit shocked. Had the first conference accepted me, I would have chalked that up as a win, and would not have made an attempt to speak at another event until I had the first one under my belt.
When your decisions are backed with the belief that everything is working out in your favor, you get the chocolate chips, and the cookies, and maybe even a scoop of ice cream.
Stop 3 to making smarter, faster decisions: Do a binary check
Even after determining your values and backing it with faith, there’s still one more barrier to pass through. That little voice that can’t help but ask: “are you sure?”
It is in these final moments of decision-making that we want to come to a solid conclusion. And the easiest way to affirm our decisions is to give a binary answer which means there are only two options, yes or no. This removes all ambiguity and forces you to be honest with yourself: is your answer a hell yes, or a no. Are you all in, or are you on the fence? Maybe means no. When you say maybe instead of no, what you’re really saying is, even if I do this, I’m not going to give you my best.
There’s a thought that I’ve been trying very hard to live by lately: “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” And I would really like to do more things with excellence. This means I’m going to have to decline many things that are not in alignment with my values or my talents.
This doesn’t mean we get to blow off responsibilities. If we did, many of them would be contradicted by a value that we’ve already established. But it does provide you with more clarity about how to spend your time and precious energy. For example, cleaning up after dinner is not something that I’m overly excited about, but it’s still a hell yes because I value the result that it gives me: a clean kitchen.
The more hell yeses you give, the more confident you will be in your performance. And you’ll begin to notice a ripple effect. Not only will you end up doing more of what you love, but you’ll be doing it with excellence, which naturally brings more recognition and opportunities.
So whether it is a big decision like, should I apply for this new job? Or a small one like, should I do my workout today? Run it through your three checkpoints:
Is this in alignment with my values?
Is this backed with the belief that it’s going to work out for the best?
Are you positively excited about this decision and the results it will bring?
Your intuition will not let you down if you honor your greatest wishes. Keep going after the things that matter most to you. What’s at the top of your list?