Provision #215: Make Decisions

Laser Provision

Many people struggle with disorganization and procrastination. They feel as though they just don’t have what it takes to stay on top of things. This Provision will assist you to reframe this struggle in terms of making decisions, thereby unleashing your energy for life.

LifeTrek Provision

We are in the midst of a series on habits for success and for the past two weeks I have written about ways to organize our time and space more efficiently. Given the volume and pace of things that come our way, it’s understandable when things pile up and become disorganized. But disorganization and procrastination are symptomatic of a far more important phenomenon: indecision.

Successful people have learned to make decisions and accelerate. Unsuccessful people have learned to postpone decisions and hesitate. Deferred decisions have a way of accumulating until they bog everything down. They paralyze rather than mobilize the resources of life.

The CEO of a sizable US corporation once told me that he was paid to make five decisions a year. The rest was icing on the cake. How he handled the rest was not critical to either the success of the company or to his success as the CEO of the company. But how he handled those five decisions could make or break the company. They were that important.

The key, he told me, was to recognize the decisions that have to be made (what’s important, what’s not), to know when to make them (timing is everything), and then to make the right decisions so that the company and its people prosper (the proof, as they say, is in the pudding).

Things are not much different when it comes to your own life. One of the exercises that I work on with my coaching clients is being the CEO of their lives. Some clients go so far as to assemble a real or imaginary board of directors, with quarterly policy and procedure meetings. This holds them accountable to the fundamental role of a CEO: to make decisions.

Unfortunately, many people fail to grasp this role and its importance for their lives. They postpone decisions until either it’s too late or it’s almost too late. When it’s almost too late, people end up in a mad dash to the finish line. They overwork and overstress themselves to get everything done. When it’s really too late, the opportunity is simply squandered forever.

One way to look at all the items on your to-do list, and all the clutter in your life, is in terms of the decisions that have to be made. Go through the to-do list, the files, and the e-mails with a simple question: what decisions have to be made here? What decisions am I postponing? Why am I postponing those decisions? Is it time to make a decision and move on?

Thinking this way is to think like a CEO. Allowing things to pile up is to think like a drone. No wonder life becomes either boring or overwhelming! The work, the paper, and the messages just pile higher and higher. Successful people are not afraid to make the decisions that enable them to stay on top of things — day to day, week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter, and year to year.

In her book Organizing from the Inside Out (Click), Julie Morgenstern observes that many people find this shift, from organizer to decision maker, to be the key to whittling down to size their to-do list and clutter. A day to get things organized does not sound like much fun to anyone other than a professional organizer. A day to make decisions • to act like a CEO • can be liberating and empowering. Bring in someone to help with the project, someone to announce your decisions to and to assist with their implementation, and you may have the formula for total success.

If don’t have the funds to hire a personal assistant you can arrange to swap roles with a friend or coworker. Assisting someone to make and implement decisions, when you know they will be doing the same thing for you, can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity. It may even be something you want to do on a regular basis, in order to cultivate the habit of staying on top of things • of making decisions • as they come along.

Whether you use an assistant or not, the point is to reframe the challenge of staying organized and effective in terms of making decisions. Seeing the challenge in this way will lessen the chore and lighten the load of everyday tasks which, in turn, will better position you to recognize and make those five big decisions every year that have the ability to make or break your life.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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