The 3 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Ask Before Making Tough Decisions
Everyone experiences self-doubt, but there's no need to panic when faced with hard choices.
Business owners make myriad decisions every day. However, when it comes to the toughest choices, like whether to hire more talent, invest in technology or seek another round of funding, it’s imperative to get clarity. When you increase your certainty before you go down a specific road, you’ll avoid second guessing your decision and unintentionally sabotaging your commitment and results.
When faced with a big decision, it’s normal to feel paralyzed, question your own gut and stress about the wisdom of your choice. But give yourself some slack. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have experienced moments of panic, shouting to the skies above, “What do I do?!”
Second, there are three questions you can ask yourself before making a difficult decision to discern what’s driving you in a specific direction, and to see if you’ll end up where you really want to go.
Related: 6 Ways to Make Hard Decisions Easier
1. Where am I running to?
We can set a lot of goals, we can think a lot of thoughts, we can behave in all sorts of ways, but ultimately, to what end? Where will this decision lead you? Too often, entrepreneurs set goals or outcomes and never ask themselves why. Unpacking your decision and taking a hard look at how it will fuel or complete you is important to your long-term peace. Discerning how this choice might make you feel along the way will influence whether your journey is more pleasurable or painful. So ask yourself: Where am I going? Why am I going? Who or what is driving me in this direction? How do I want to travel down this path?
Running from is different than running to. The first is backward-focused, negative and avoidant. The latter is forward-focused, positive and upward-facing. Knowing what you are building and creating helps you step forward with confidence, even when you are feeling your most vulnerable. Knowing where you truly wish to be (your to) can also help you create more of it in the present moment. If you’re running toward hitting the seven-figure product launch because you think it will prove your success and show your family members you aren’t crazy, then ask yourself: How can I feel more worthy right here, right now? How can I respect and honor my prior decisions before I make this next big decision?
2. Am I making this decision from a place of fear or faith?
Most entrepreneurs spend some time scared out of their wits. It comes with the title and the inevitable roller coaster ride of going out on your own. But when you make decisions from a place of fear, it can constrict opportunities, limit possibility and truncate your results. When you operate from fear, you’ll try to over control and force outcomes. Ironically, forcing solutions creates more tension and resistance, whereas going with the flow creates space for even more possibilities. In order to put your fears aside, ask yourself: If I replaced my fear with faith and my worry with calm and certainty, what might I say and do now? What might shift before I make a commitment to a path? If I replaced my fear with faith and my worry with calm and certainty, what decision would I lean toward?
Faith requires surrendering, letting go and loosening your grasp on your belief that you must control everything. Paradoxically, faith in yourself means that if you do make a decision that leads to unintended consequences, you can give yourself the grace to know that you made the best decision at the time you made it and you still believe in yourself to course-correct.
Entrepreneurs often get stuck making tough decisions because they are scared of what will happen if they make a choice. Some entrepreneurs are afraid of losing security and comfort, while others are scared of what the next level of success might require of them. Ask yourself whether fear or faith in yourself is going to motivate this next decision.
3. Who must I become to lead into this decision?
Focusing on who you need to evolve into in order to reach and exceed your goals is one of the very best questions you will ever ask yourself. For more than 20 years, I’ve used this question to change the conversation and to change the mindset of leaders around the globe. "Who must I become to make this decision and create the life I desire?" is at the heart of it all. Looking at yourself — your strengths and core values, your drivers and motivators, your skill gaps, personality quirks and your shortcomings (come on, you know you’re perfectly imperfect) — is the best thing you can do to make a well-informed and confident decision.
Asking yourself how you might need to evolve, should you choose a certain path, before you make the actual choice is brilliant — full stop. It sets you up for decision-making success. Before you commit, ask yourself: Who might I need to become in order to make this decision manifest into the most profitable outcomes possible? Your answer will help you craft a plan for your own evolution as you support the manifestation of your choices.
Big entrepreneurial decisions are less about options A and B and more about figuring out who you are and the life you want to create for yourself. Life is messy. You’ll make mistakes. You might even make a decision that has you eyeing somebody else’s lane or feeling like your road took a detour, but the more time you take to ask and answer these three questions, the more time you’ll confidently spend behind the wheel, confidently steering in the direction of your desires.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer