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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Three Easy Stages to Help Make Hard Decisions



In 2009, I had started my own company while at the same time working as a senior manager at a another company. I enjoyed both because each job provided me with an exciting life of travel challenges, and connecting with people. The time for both jobs was grueling, and I have a wonderful family who was not getting my attention, or any attention. My mind was always working even when I was not officially working. Even on the weekends my head was buried in work like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. I had decided it was time to choose one job and give myself back the time I need for my family, but my dream was to own and run my own company. My crazy dilemma, do I give up my dream or continue with a riskier step towards running my company? The difference between the two jobs were: security of a larger company versus a startup with high risk and potential high reward.
Every day we face with decisions which help us gain our desires. In those decisions, we give up one path for another path, many times not every regretting or looking back upon our decision. As the stakes get bigger, we tend to stew upon the decision resulting in stressful situations. To reduce stress, fallow three stages of a decision: clarity, risk, and reward. The first stage is clarity. We must be super clear on what we want and why we want a goal. If we are not clear, the decisions tend to be blurred and we may choose a path which leads us away from our deepest desires like a dense fog closing around our own reasoning. When my decision needed to be made, I reached back into what I really wanted, I wanted to run my own company and be my own boss. The goal of owning my own company was so powerful and so clear that it has pushed me through nights, weekends, and mornings working to achieve that dream. Even with the clarity of my dream, I still needed the other two stages to unravel before I could make the final decision.
The second piece to this decision puzzle is pondering the risk in the decision. When risk outweighs the reward, the desire to achieve the dream may never be enough to push through a decision. For example, I have read numerous stories about people who trained and suffered to climb Mt. Everest only to turn back within feet of the summit because the risk of losing their life became too great. The risk of death became higher than the reward of reaching the summit. Luckily for me, my decision did not involve death, but my risks were losing my family, becoming unemployed, and losing a secure, steady income. There is a risk in about anything, but the risk of a startup targets the personal bank account. The company that employed me paid me a good salary and had fantastic benefits. Now I might take a path with a lower salary and fewer benefits. In this situation, just evaluating the risk by itself would have turned me back to my secure job, but I needed to consider the reward before concluding on a decision.
The reward of a secure job means safety, certainty, and a continued growth in life. The reward of a startup could mean a significant income change and a different way of life for me and my family. In some ways, it is like gambling, do you take a risk on a high bet or keep your money in your pocket? Each person has a different way of evaluating the reward. In the case of choosing one job over another, my dream of running my own company had the much higher reward. When reward out ways risks and your decision aligns with your goal, the path forward burns through the dense fog of uncertainty. The dream of running my own company had come true, and I embraced the decision and quit my secure job for the high reward. I have never looked back.
As a quick recap, the three stages of decisions are: clarity, risk and reward. When we have crystal clear goals and the rewards out way the risk, our decision for one path over another becomes easily to make. After you make a big decision, take a moment, celebrate and move on. If the ugly head of remorse sets up remind yourself what your goal is and reflect upon its clear lenses.
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