Insights from Dana
Intentional: Five Strategic Steps to Decisive Leadership

Photo by Jamie Templeton 

Can you imagine making more than 30,000 decisions in a single day?

That averages out to more than 20 decisions a minute!

It might sound impossible, but the average adult does it every day. 

But, as a high-achieving business owner, you have a few extra decisions on your plate, like:

What comes next for your company?

That’s a buck-stops-with-you level decision that only you can make.

The problem is, you’re bombarded with decisions all day long, from what to wear or eat to what comes next for your business and the steps to get you there. 

From big-picture strategy to day-to-day operations, the weight of decision-making can take a toll, leaving even the most accomplished entrepreneurs feeling drained and uncertain.


Decoding Decision Fatigue 

Decisive decision-making skills are critical to building a successfully sustainable and scalable business. The caveat is: the more decisions you make over the course of any given day, the worse you get at making decisions.

You start your days feeling focused and effective, only to end up foggy, impatient, and uncertain, like you’re actually using all your brainpower to get the job done.

That’s decision fatigue—an energetic drain on your mental resources that can leave you feeling uncertain, despite your expertise and accomplishments. 

It’s not only exhausting, it’s depleting your capacity to grow your company and step up as the CEO you’re called to be.

Decision fatigue wastes precious time and energy, leaving you feeling frustrated, anxious, and under pressure to make the “right” choice, even when you’ve depleted the mental resources you need to make a good decision.

The answer is simple: make fewer decisions and better choices.

Five Strategic Steps to Decisive Leadership

#1. Check In with Yourself First.

it’s easy to overlook the signals your body sends when it’s in need of attention. But, taking the time to check in with yourself helps ensure you’re operating at your peak performance when it matters most.

Are you thirsty? Staying hydrated isn’t just about survival, it also improves focus and memory. 

Are you hungry? Eating doesn’t just fuel your body, it fuels your brain, too. Which means that when you’re hungry, your brain doesn’t have the resources it needs to function properly, never mind achieve peak performance.

Do you need a bio break? Your body is telling you what it needs. Listening is an essential leadership skill, too. Go already.

Do you need to get up and move your body? Take 5-10 minutes to clear your mind and reset. Stand up and stretch, shake it out, or go for a walk around the block. 

Or do you just need to sleep on it? I’ve learned that when I’m tired, I need to stop saying “yes,” and say, “I’ll get back to you,” instead. 

It makes me slow down and creates some time and space for me to gain more perspective.

You don’t want to get into the habit of delaying the choices that need to be made, but when it comes to significant decisions in life and business, sometimes the best thing you can do is sleep on it.


#2. Remember: There is No Perfect Answer.

I know that no one ever wants to be told to relax, but when you’re really grappling with a big decision that has you second-guessing yourself, you tend to get caught up in the tension of indecision. You consider the options, weigh the pros and cons, talk it through with people you trust, and make a decision. But, even then, you keep coming back to worry at your choice like a loose tooth. 

The weight of potentially making the wrong decision leaves you floundering to make a decision at all.

It reminds me of when my kids were in their final years of high school and trying to decide where to go to college. They tied themselves in knots trying to find the best program, the perfect school, the right choice.

In reality, whatever decision they made in the end, they had the power to make it the right decision. That truth applies any time we’re struggling with choices that make us feel like we’re out of our depth; once we make the decision, we can choose to behave as though it is the “right” decision. Because there is no perfect answer. 

Instead of agonizing over the options, consider the possibilities.

  • What are the predictable outcomes of each choice?
  • What challenges or obstacles can you identify as a result?
  • What unintended consequences might crop up if you pursue each particular course of action?

Working through these questions can help shift you from “what if” to feeling more confident in your decisions.

Once you’ve determined your choice, let go of the other possibilities and relax. Commit to the decision you’ve made. 


#3. Delegate and Let It Go.

Effective delegation is an essential skill for any badass CEO. Of course, there are certain decisions that you want to be a part of, but effective delegation is key to combating decision fatigue and freeing up your time and energy for strategic action. Trust your team to handle day-to-day minutiae and empower them to make decisions within their areas of expertise. By sharing the workload and responsibilities, you empower your team and create a more efficient, collaborative work environment.

Delegate and let it go.


#4. Put Your Priorities in Order.

All decisions are not created equal.

Some decisions require immediate attention, others don’t. Prioritize accordingly and make important, time-sensitive decisions when you’re at your best.

Are you a morning person or do you tend to hit your stride later in the day? 

⇒ Identify when you do your best work and dedicate time to make significant decisions during that window of the day. This can help you prepare mentally and, if something comes up, you already know that you have time set aside to manage the choices that need to be made.

⇒ Set aside a specific block of time, once a week, to handle minor decisions that aren’t time-sensitive so you can move through them efficiently. 

⇒ Block these windows out on your calendar as non-negotiable. Let your team know when you’ve scheduled decision o’clock so you can spend the rest of your time focused on your magic sauce without being interrupted with distracting decisions.

These steps can help you prepare mentally and, if something comes up, you already know that you have time set aside to manage the choices that need to be made.


#5: Standardize, Systematize, Automate.

Finally, consider implementing or updating your systems and processes to streamline your decision-making and reduce cognitive load. From standard operating procedures to automation tools, there are countless ways to simplify your workflow and minimize decision fatigue. By standardizing routine tasks and leveraging technology to handle repetitive processes, you’ll create more mental space for innovation and creativity.

Overcoming Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is a common challenge faced by many high-achieving business owners. 

Breaking the cycle of decision fatigue is not about eliminating decisions altogether, but rather about optimizing your approach to decision-making and creating a healthier, more sustainable, more successful business.

These small steps may seem simplistic in the grand scheme of things, but this is a proven, sustainable approach to establish new patterns and routines. As you implement these strategies, you’re cultivating the time, energy, and mindset you need to step up as the CEO your company needs you to be.

To recap, here are your 5 Strategic Steps to Decisive Leadership:

#1) Check In with Yourself First. Learn to recognize what decision fatigue feels like in your body compared to how you feel when you are well-rested, sated, hydrated, energetic, and focused.

#2) Remember: There is No Perfect Decision.

#3) Delegate and Let It Go. Trust your team so that you can be present and focused on the significant decisions that drive your business forward. 

#4) Put Your Priorities in Order. Use time-sensitive decisions and your natural energy rhythms to help you establish a sustainable and effective decision-making process.

#5) Standardize, Systematize, Automate. Explore the different ways you can use programs and software to automate your business processes and workflows and free up time and energy for you and your team.

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