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Trusting Your Gut Instincts

Trying to make a tough business decision? Listen to your intuition.

In our lives and businesses, we have to make countless decisions every day to move our goals forward. However, accessing all our choices can be stressful because money, resources and our reputations are often on the line. We can become so obsessed with making the "right" decision that we inadvertently abandon our dreams.

One entrepreneur I recently met compares business decision making to the choices he makes raising his children. There is rarely an absolute right solution, but more often than not, your intuition tips the balance toward the best choice. Trusting your innate sense makes it easier to develop winning strategies that work for you and your business.

Successful decision-makers realize victory is only achieved by taking a series of actions. Their common goal is to create a path that is most likely to produce the desired results. They continue to learn, adjust their goals and move forward no matter what challenges they encounter. To awaken and strengthen your natural instincts, consider the following tactics:

1. State your desired outcome. Clarity is remarkably easy to find when you seek it. When a challenge occurs, immediately focus on the resolution. It can be as simple as "satisfy my customers" or as specific as "sign Acme as a distribution partner." Basing your assessment on a clear outcome allows you to apply your instinct with the same ease you would if your assessment were based on hard numbers and facts.

2. Explore your choices. Concentrate on the present task and use your imagination to generate feasible solutions. List three different alternatives that can spur you
toward your ultimate goal. These serve as a blueprint from which your heart and mind can develop exceptional answers.

3. Listen to yourself. Take a breath, and clear your mind of any outside distractions. Know that no matter what the circumstances, you have the ability to take positive action. Analyze each option based on the information and resources available, then let your intuition take flight. Choose the solution that is most likely to propel your goal forward, and then implement it.

4. Take bold action. Identify an action step you can take immediately to kick-start your chosen strategy. It's natural to feel unsure about taking your first step. Remember that with each step you take, you deposit more knowledge into your "intuition experience bank," making your next step toward success readily apparent. This clear vision of what you need to accomplish helps your spirit and confidence soar.

5. Do not obsess over "what ifs." Worrying about negative outcomes stresses your mind and diminishes your capacity to trust your instincts. Surprises occur. Distinguish between decisions and outcomes--you have control of your actions, but not of the ultimate results. If you focus on preparing for the worst-case scenario rather than daring to see all possibilities, you gravitate toward being reactive instead of proactive.

Developing your intuitive sense is similar to learning any new skill--the more you practice, the more proficient you will become. Learn to trust your decision-making ability by paying close attention to what your intuition is telling you. Listen to the ideas, opinions and strategies of others, but remember: Your success is ultimately about the action you take. Personalizing your action plan will lead to amazing results in your business.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.

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This article was originally published in the November 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Go With Your Gut.

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