Episode 34: Reap the Benefits of Life: How To Make Good Decisions

Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design. Your Monday morning moments of motivation to help you build a bigger, better, and bolder you. Hey man, I am excited today to come for just a few moments here with you and share some outstanding information that we have learned this last week.

First, if you haven’t had a chance to give us a rating and review on iTunes, we’ve made it even simpler for you. If you’ll simply go to our website at livealifeby.design/podcast, we have created a short video titled “How to Leave a Review on iTunes”. It is so simple. Takes less than 30 seconds if you’d go and leave us a review, we’d certainly appreciate it. Go in there and rate the podcast. It is something that would be helpful to us to get on the new and newsworthy section of iTunes. It would be some big help for us and we’d certainly appreciate that. But if you wouldn’t mind, I’m gonna read to you just a few comments that were given to us in reviews so far on the podcast on iTunes.

“This is a great way to get my week in gear. Jimmy is such a genuine person and his message inspires, I’m looking forward to listening more.” This is from Women in Advice. And I don’t know who these people are by the names they use on here, but here’s another one called the Office Runner.

“Jimmy, I’ve been listening to your podcast on my morning runs. So much great information and it makes me always think about my life. Two daughters, I love to travel and work out and in my 50s, I laugh about the similarities. Lot’s of motivation.”

Thank you so much for your kind words and comments. They mean so much to us as we want to bring you the highest value we can and help let you see that there’s something positive in the world that can help you make your life even better.

How do you make good decisions? Have you made any bad decisions in life? Now I’m certain right now, I can’t see through the microphone, but I’m betting I’ve got many heads listening to this podcast shaking up and down. If we’re gonna be honest with ourselves, today is the day. We’re gonna talk about how to make good decisions and reap the benefits of life.

You make hundreds of decisions each day. Some of the decisions you make are simply automatic. For example, you drive to work, most likely the same route every day of the week and now the decision is effortless. However, what happens to your thought process when and accidents been reported on your route, or there have been floodwaters, some issues and you can’t get to the office or your place of work using the same route. Oh my goodness, now the brain has to go to work in overtime. What was once automated is now going to be a difficult or even more difficult process.

You see, we face a situation every day called decision fatigue. Scientists tell us that this decision fatigue aliment is basically underlined by all of the decisions, little, big, whatever, but just making decisions actually wears us out after a while. Tires us down and we don’t make as good as a decision late in the day, perhaps, as we do early in the day when we first awake. So today we’ll discuss some of the strategies I use to help make decisions with positive outcomes. We will share how distortions, or called cognitive bias, identified by researchers impacts how you see life.

Further, we will explore how your decision process can be hacked to give you the greatest probability of a positive outcome. You know I’ve made some bad decisions in my lifetime. Oh man, you know we have to do something difficult in life. I’ve always often heard that life is the only school you go to where you get the test first and the lesson later. Well, boy, some of those tests I didn’t do so well in life. But hey, you know you can’t live your life in the past. And some of these decisions were good decisions that I made that actually developed into bad outcomes after the facts changed during the process.

One of these bad decisions actually cost me $40,000. Now, folks, I would say that one was a bad decision. But actually I’ll tell you, the bright side was that I learned some valuable lessons about this process of decision making from that one costly mistake. And I learned about securing my position when involving others in a business venture. Particularly if they’re some of your closest friends. You know we don’t necessarily take the precautions we should, or make good decisions. We kind of let our guard down sometimes when we have too much familiarity. And we’re gonna talk about some of those issues a little later in this episode.

You can only control certain aspects of the decision-making process. We never, and I shouldn’t say never, but in most cases do not have the capability to control every facet of the decision-making process. What I attempt to do is try to control all of them that I am capable of. You know, the fun in life is the tilting of the tables in your favor by following the process I will outline below. What I’m gonna talk to you about in this podcast is vital to helping you turn the corner on decision making. So many people come into our office and they are just beat down from making decisions that have given them poor outcomes. I hate to use the term bad, but they’ve given them poor outcomes. They’ve invested dearly in something that didn’t return a very good return for them. Or they made decisions perhaps even with family members that provided them some hurt and pain that they’ve yet to maybe recover.

You know every decision will not bear the highest positive outcomes, but you will approach all challenging situations with the method that is consistent if you simply use this five-step process. And I use this process literally daily. Now you’ve heard me in the past talk about my goals, and how I set goals, and I don’t want to go in and rehash that, but I want to bring back to mind just a few moments of what I call my weekly big three and my daily big three when referring to goals. I look at this weekly big three as my footprints to accomplishing my quarterly goals.

Now my quarterly goals are also the pathway, once they’re accomplished, to reaching my annual goals. You see how this builds. So you’re building a foundation here, so we start very big at a 30,000 ft level and those are my annual goals, and I just start chopping away, I’ve got quarterly goals, weekly goals, and then down to daily goals.

Well, why I’m saying so much about goals is because the first step in any good decision process is to identify your goal. You know, picture yourself already achieving your goal in your mind. The mind is just so powerful that you’ll come up with this vivid picture in your mind of where you’ve already held the trophy, or if you’re running a 5K you’re holding that medal up in your hand, and you’re picturing on the clock that it’s only 16 minutes into that 5K and you’ve got it done.

Well, I can’t say that I run a 5K, I actually run in what’s called the Clydesdale Division in most races. And I believe that’s not necessarily the heavier of us, what I really think that is just those of us that are drafters, you now we get behind that little speed demon and we really draft to the finish line. Well, we can all interpret it in our own way. But I do digress. One of the best methods of making appropriate decisions is to find yourself in your mind as if the correct decisions have already been made and the end result if the achievement of your goal.

Step 1: Know What You Desire to Accomplish

The most important step is to know what you desire to accomplish. This is why I mentioned earlier about my goals. If you can not definitively design what you want to have in life and put on paper so that you can reflect on it daily. Or at least weekly, then you’re not going to have a good frame of mind to make decisions about your future. You haven’t yet designed in your mind what your future should look like. Many of us do not understand or learn how to properly set goals. We’re gonna tackle this in a future episode, in detail, so that it will help you gain a better understanding.

As my beautiful wife often tells me when we’re driving in a new state or new territory, you know somewhere we’ve never been. And we love to do this, we love to have during especially the fall when the leaves are changing, tackle a new area of Arkansas for example. Or Texas, where the leaves are changing, just beautifully, just cooler weather than the summers been here in Oklahoma. And we’re just driving down, the windows down, we’ve got the sunroof back. And we’re just having a slow drive through the countryside. And we’re not probably getting where we need to go, and my beautiful wife will simply say, “You can’t get to where we need to go if you don’t know where we are now”.

She is wise beyond her years, is she not? For example, let’s assume my goal now that I’m gonna paint for you, is to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months. The initial decision to be made is to picture myself without the pounds around my waist. Perhaps, I’m wearing a smaller size waist in my slacks and jeans. Perhaps I’ve bought a new belt that’s smaller in length than the previous one. So this type of process then would be built on the next decision. And that’s where I might go schedule workouts on my calendars. Which I have.

By tackling one achievable decision at a time, the totality of the chain of decisions has a higher probability of a positive outcome. In simple terms, if you make one good decision that then leads to another good decision, and then another, you will see yourself building confidence that you’re going to ultimately need to carry you through to achieving the ultimate goal. So first, of the five steps, you must identify your goal to be a good decision-maker.

Step 2: Gather information for determining your options

Now the second step, gather information for determining your options. In this part, I look for things that I can research and so forth. I look at all the options I can imagine, in this particular process, you know very few experiences in life allow you only one option. You’ve got many different options most of the time. Attempt, perhaps spend your quality time in thought and research to determine if you have considered all or at least a few of the options available to you. An area I focus in decision making is to brainstorm on paper about the various solutions to my decision.

Now I emphasis here, on paper. The brain is a miraculous device that when allowed to just utilize its full potential by using your hand, and it directs your fingers to holding that pen and writing out just different thoughts about the decision. You will eventually open your mindset during the brainstorming process to a solution that most likely will work.

So let’s review the decisions made to produce this weekly podcast. I immediately started researching the hardware needed, software options, engineering needs, communications options, budgetary requirements, etc. It is not something that you simply come up, get a microphone or a phone, stick it in front of your face and start talking. There are a lot more items to consider. And I will admit to you today, that most of those questions I had no idea until I had started my research.

And I quickly amassed people around me that had the qualifications and expertise to help us pull off a top-notch podcast. Folks this last week, we are now being listened to in now 13 countries versus 11 just a week ago. This is amazing because of subscribers and listeners like you, we are making a difference by giving positively to the mindset of many many thousands of people across this globe. And by breaking down the decisions of software, hardware, and so forth, into smaller areas, I build confidence in each of these areas by making the best decisions possible.

Now I’m going to admit, I made a couple of boo-boos and bought some hardware items that when I visited with our engineering firm, they quickly said I never needed that to start with. Now, why did I make that poor decision? I quickly told them, I am a decision-maker. Now I will make a decision with all the facts that I have known at the time that I think that the decision needs to be made. You see, I’ll never suffer from what’s called analysis paralysis. This is simply a state of mind in which we spend way too much time analyzing all the facets of a potential decision for fear that the decision that we make would not be positive or beneficial and then in turn with all of this analysis we do nothing.

You know I ask questions of those that are performed in these areas what they consider to be the best information. The best hardware, the best software to use. These advisors provided me honest feedback that allowed me to move forward in the decision and make the best decision I possibly could. So number two, gather information for determining your options.

Step 3: Write Down the Positive and negative potential outcomes

Item number three in the process is to write down the positive and negative potential outcomes. As an eternal optimist, and if you’ve been listening now, we have 34 episodes of this podcast. I have enjoyed each of them immensely and I hope you continue to do so as well, but I am such an optimist that I will admit that I do not focus on the potential negative outcomes as a motivation tool for making decisions. I just don’t. I frame the decision in a positive light to empower me to continue moving forward toward my goal. I always have been this way, and I will say that the reason I’m this way is I have been such a positive minded person, I really never look at the negative outcomes to determine if I’ll move forward or not.

You know, motivation is something that I seek on a daily basis. Zig Ziglar, I love some of the statements he made. “Motivation is just like bathing, it won’t hurt you to get some, a little every day.” You know by writing down the positives, and the negatives, perhaps if you like to use those. You can see the decision more clearly and picture in your mind the end result. You know, as entrepreneurs many of us face decisions with little background information or facts. You simply must thrust forward in a position that requires immediate response and you just have to pull the trigger. Now if the result of this immediate decision is not as positive as you had desired, make a new decision. Once again, my great mentor, Zig Ziglar, he had a statement, he said, “Don’t try to prove people wrong. Give them additional facts to make a new decision”.

So you have to admit to yourself, OK, I’m not ever going to know all I need to know to make a decision. One of the people of our country that must weigh a tremendous amount of pressure in all the decisions made, would be our leader. The president of our country. If you’ll notice the pictures of the first swearing-in of our presidents and if you look at the picture 8 years later. Most of them have had a lot more grey when they leave then the day they were sworn in. It is a tremendous amount of pressure. I had the privilege of going to the President George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU in Dallas. And they have replicated in their library a situation room, and they provide you a console that you must make decisions within about 30 seconds that could impact the entire world.

Now I really enjoyed the fact I had to be tested at this, by giving us the actual facts as seen by President George W. Bush. The same facts of what he had to make as a decision in real-time, I was allowed to make at this console with really no ramifications if I’d gotten the wrong answer. But I sat there for really, approximately say 15 minutes. And during that 15 minutes of making simple decisions by pushing a button selecting the option that I would recommend as president that our nation take in a given pattern of facts was unnerving and I mean just drenching of energy for me.

You see when you think about placing the millions of lives of the American citizens at stake for a simple decision that had to be made quickly. One decision, that is a tremendous amount of pressure. So we talked earlier about this cognitive bias that we use in our decision-making process. Let’s talk about these perceptions of bias for just a few minutes.

First and foremost, there’s always a perception of how we see ourselves. Would you not agree that each of us is probably our own worst critics? Perhaps our most strong critic against our actions. I know I am for myself. Some of the things that we do for our clients, you know, I wish that I’d had a little more time or I would have done something a little different had I known this or that. But you know in the lives of living day-to-day-to-day, the decisions that we made and the methodology we utilized to gain our clients stepping forward in the progress of what they needed to achieve, they most appreciated.

We also have not just our perception of ourselves, but our perception of others. If you’re going to face the world with the idea that you can’t trust any other fellow man, and that everyone is “out to get you”. That you have such paranoia that you can’t make a decision You’ve already lost the battle. Now understandably some of us may suffer for some, maybe some mental toughness that we’ve faced in the past and that’s created some of this paranoia. But I will suggest to you that if you face this with that thought of everyone is here to help me succeed on my goal, you may not have an accurate picture of everyone, but there are many of us that want to see you succeed. So the perception of others is others is a bias we maintain in the decision process that impacts us.

There’s also the perception of the facts. Perhaps you don’t know all of the facts, or your perception is you’ll never know all the facts and therefore you can’t move forward on a decision. The perception may be that the facts are really laid out before you, but you don’t have still all of the nuances that could impact your decision-making process. You see this perception of “the facts” is interpreted in your own mind. It’s how you respond and believe.

And there’s the perception of the past. You know I have made a lot of my decisions by learning from the past. And sometimes we can allow a terrible decision result from the past to ruin our future. I’m suggesting to you today that you’d learn from the past, but you don’t live in the past. You face a new day with new opportunities every 24 hours. Just like everyone else. But if you face that new opportunity with nothing more than the negative impact of the past as your guide, you’ll certainly not seize the opportunities.

And the perception of the future is your last cognitive bias I want to discuss today. I will tell you, I do not live for the future. But I do want to live in it. What I try to do is live for the day. Every 24 hours is a wonderful gift. Every moment that I get on this planet to help others, to help my children, my wife, my family, to me is a blessing. That 24 hour period is called living in the present. I’ve talked about this with you before, and I believe that is where we are intended to focus our time, talents and energy. It is in the present where we can make the most impact in someone else’s life as well as our own.

It is important that our perception of the future is one that is bright. That we have endless capabilities at our risk. We have endless resources to be utilized. We have endless thoughts and goals to accomplish. I encourage you to think about these biases and use them as a tool but don’t use them as a hammer. And what I mean by that, don’t hammer yourself over the head by being too critical of yourself by any of these perceptions.

Step 4: Pull The Trigger

Item number four of our five-step process, make your decision. After identifying the goal, gathering information and considering the outcomes, it is time to pull the trigger. It is in this phase that many individuals fail to act. The result, as I said earlier, analysis paralysis is almost always a negative one. Procrastinators will not appreciate my next comment. But I believe it has been critical in my success and my career. I would rather make a decision to move forward on a goal or a task based on too little information then to miss an opportunity by not making any decision at all.

Life is full of opportunities that may be lost if one doesn’t take calculating chances to grown and take advantage of them. You see, it is only after the small sapling strains and pushes and works its way uncomfortably with its root system through the soil to reach that richest of dirt. To reach that water that’s in the ground. And that will then hold the sapling as the storms of life are unfolded. You see there’s a reason why when there are trees that are cut down and they go to remove the stump and you will find roots that have been feeler roots, sometimes 40 and 50 feet away from the tree, many feet underground. You see that’s why the mighty oak can withstand the winds of the tornado.

That’s why we must dig deep within ourselves and we must give ourselves an opportunity to grow by sometimes doing what is uncomfortable. And that is making a decision with the least amount of information we have. We just must simply move forward. By moving forward we then open up a whole new door of possibility and perhaps you’ll find additional facts to help you make a clearer refined decision as you move forward. So make your decisions the fourth step.

Step 5: Evaluate the Decision and the Progress

The fifth step, evaluate the decision and the progress. Upon final action of the decision, it is critical to compare your actual outcome with the desired outcome. We do this during every team meeting of any action we take within our company. You know, I don’t believe it is important to say the outcome is win or lose. I do not believe in absolutes. Rather I’d rather say, I give myself a percentage of completion ranking such as a grade in school. Most of my outcomes have been in the B or B- minus grade based on my own evaluation.

Now I know what you’re saying, most of you listening are very, very brilliant people and you’ve got a 4.0 average in school. I’m a much harder teacher then I had in any of my college or masters programs I assure you. This is another area where your mentor or advisors could be very helpful. It is often said that we are much harder on ourselves than others would be on us. And me being a type-A personality, I attempt greatness and magnificence in each of my goals. To develop moderate and meek goals will produce a life that does not reach its full potential. Even if my ultimate goals are not fully realized the journey will have been exciting, daring, and worth it all in my opinion. This is what makes life worth living to me.

So this week, let’s put this process into practice. What choice have you been delaying that if decided this week would give you a jolt of ambition and confidence? It is time for you to move forward in life. Wouldn’t you rather your tombstone read “I am glad I did” instead of “I wish I had”. The only goals that have ever caused a person misery were those that were not pursued with vigor and intensity. Mediocrity has no place in your life. It is time you faced the decision that will move your life forward in a positive manner. So what if you make a bad decision? Get over it. Move forward, don’t sit down and over analyze the outcome for too long. You will miss the next great opportunity by living in the past. You’ve got this. Today is a new day. You have 24 hours to make good decisions that outcomes will be positive. Make a list of the decisions you need to make and let’s work on them one by one.

And the best thing is to leave me a comment of a decision you made on our Facebook page at Live a Life by Design. And if you haven’t liked our page, I encourage you, go in and like our page we put many good comments, information, we share books, information that will help you learn more from the podcast. Learn more from the blog and help you find a source of positivity in this negative world.

So the challenge this week is to face that one decision that you’ve been ignoring and utilize this 5-step process to give yourself a jolt of confidence to achieve a positive outcome. And next week, join us when we share about feeding your mind to achieve success.

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