Insights from Dana
Eight Steps to Make Difficult Business Decisions More Effectively

Making difficult decisions is standard operating procedure when you own your own business. 

You know how to be strategic about the choices you make for your company. You do the market research, run the numbers, and troubleshoot potential obstacles along the way so you can make an informed decision.

Effective decision-making is an essential skill in business and life, but when you’re left with more than one viable option because the pros and cons of each are equally weighted, how do you determine the best way forward?

When you’ve collated the data and compared the ROI, but there’s no clear “right answer,” how do you identify the right course of action?

You stop going around in circles in your mind and tune in to what your body and nervous system have to say about the choice you’re facing. This technique is known as somatic decision-making.

What is Somatic Decision Making?

The field of Somatics integrates physical movement and body-based practices to better understand the connection between thought, emotion, sensation, and physical perception.

Somatic decision-making gets you out of your head and into your body by focusing your attention on the physiological and emotional responses that occur outside of your conscious control. These responses point the way to how you feel about each potential possibility and what you really want, making this a great practice to help you find answers when your next steps seem unclear.

A Powerful Practice for Making Difficult Decisions

Because the truth is that if you’ve done the research and weighed the potential outcomes, you already have all of the information you need to make an educated decision. Now you need to get clear on what you really want.

I use this somatic decision-making exercise with my Catapult coaching clients because it is especially effective when you’re trying to decide between two (or more) seemingly equivalent options.

If you’re doubtful or unsure, consider this an invitation to experiment, try something new, and expand your perspective. 

Worst case scenario? You’ll do some deep breathing and visioning work about the future.

Eight Simple Steps to Decision-Making Clarity

Now, find a quiet space where you can focus without any distractions or demands on your attention for about 10 minutes.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and relax. 
  1. Take a deep breath to ground yourself in your body and the moment. 
  1. Once you feel centered, think about the question you’re struggling to answer and the options you’re trying to navigate.
  1. Choose one of the options to start with and take a step to the right. As you take that step, close your eyes and project yourself fully into the reality of the first choice – what would that look like? What would that feel like? 
  1. Paint a picture of it in your mind. Then scan your body for how it responds to this imaginary outcome, paying attention to any physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions that come up for you. When you’ve recognized all the different ways your body is reacting to this scenario, take a deep breath and step back to center. 
  1. Now, take another deep breath and shake it out – do a little hokey pokey and reset.
  1. When you’re ready, close your eyes and step to the left, imagining yourself in the alternate reality. Immerse yourself in how it feels, scanning your body and tuning in again to the thoughts, sensations, and emotions that arise. Take a deep breath and step back to the middle when you feel clear about what’s coming up for you.

If you’re grappling with more than two options, use this exercise to work through two at a time.

  1. Take another deep breath and open your eyes as you release it all.

By the time you’ve completed this exercise, your body will have told you the right answer. It’s the one that felt lighter and more spacious, the one that resonated rather than triggering an anxious response, a feeling of dissatisfaction, or a lack of alignment. 

Frankly, you knew it all along. You just need to step back from the noise, distractions, and expectations that get in the way of learning to know and trust yourself.

Make More Effective Decisions, Create More Aligned Outcomes

The more you tune into your body and practice somatic decision-making, the more you’ll find yourself clearly feeling the answer. And the less often you’ll find yourself needing the physical process to identify it.

Making the right decision for you and your business is about recognizing and honoring how you define success and what you want for and from your company. Then you can make effective choices even when the way forward seems unclear and take intentional action to achieve your goals.

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