HOW TO - MAKE A DECISION
How do you know if you’re right? It’s a question you can really only answer with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, when you look back and reflect on where you’ve come from to where you are right now. Did you make the right decision? It’s quite a tricky question when you think about it, yet we all have to make decisions every single day. Small decisions like what to have for dinner tonight and less frequently, big, life changing decisions like should I start a business? We make decisions in life all.the.time but occasionally we stumble across a decision that has to be made that completely stumps us and it makes you think to yourself “how am I possibly going to decide what to do?” It’s these kind of decisions that I want to focus on here because, hand on heart, I used to be terrible at making decisions. But over the years I’ve found that there is a path to navigate along that will lead you to the right decision. Ultimately, it’s a combination of experience + awareness + honesty, but let me give you an example of a big decision I’ve had to make and then reveal, with a little help from my husband’s extremely sound advice, the six steps to take when you need to make one too.
One of my favourite places I worked before I started blancspace is L’Oreal. In fact I am lucky enough to still consult to them now but back in 2011 I had taken a position to run the national marketing for a niche French skincare brand called Biotherm. I was so excited about my new job. I remember asking the first person I interviewed with what her favourite thing about the company was. She told me that it was the people. And she wasn’t kidding. She is now a very dear friend, as are many, many of the people I worked there with. It was just that kind of place, everyone who was there really wanted to be there and importantly, deserved to be there. There was a zero-tolerance policy for incompetence and I loved it. Until one day the entire office was called into the boardroom and we were told that all our positions were being made redundant. You see L’Oreal is divided into three core business groups; the Consumer Division which houses enormous brands like Maybelline and Garnier, the Professional Division which is the hair & salon channel and the Luxury Division, with brands like Lancome, YSL and Armani. Both the Consumer and Professional Divisions were based in Melbourne while the Luxury Division, where I worked, was based in Sydney. The global L’Oreal office in Paris had simply decided it was time for all the division siblings to live under one roof. In Melbourne. So the options were quite simple, move to Melbourne with my current job or stay in Sydney and be made redundant. There were 62 people working in the luxury office and just 9 moved to Melbourne. Was I one of them? Well, enter my big, life, career changing decision. How on earth was I going to decide what to do? For lots and lots of people the prospect of redundancy was a great one, they’d been working at L’Oreal for years, decades in some cases and were due substantial redundancy packages. But me, I had been there just 5 months. No redundancy payout for me. But, as my Dad told me at the time, that’s life in the big city. He also told me that if I worked through it, the answer would show itself, almost as though it wasn’t a decision to be made at all. Imagine how helpful I thought that was at the time. So, the question was, do I stay with a company I love and move to Melbourne, do something different? Or do I stay in Sydney close to my friends and family, and along with some of the brightest minds in beauty, look for another job. So I made a choice, one that I could control, and I decided that I was going to do absolutely everything I could to really experience this decision. I threw myself into gathering all the information possible; I made pros and cons lists, I talked to my colleagues, I reached out to Estée Lauder and interviewed there, I flew to Melbourne and visited the L’Oreal office and even flew my sister to Melbourne for the weekend so together we could ask “could I really live here?” Then on the Monday afternoon of the long weekend I’d taken in Melbourne, I received a phone call from Estée Lauder offering me a job. And just like that, as my Dad had predicted, the decision appeared and I accepted the role on the spot.
I’ve had to make many tough decisions in my life and I’ve come to understand that these six steps are the very ultimate mentor when it comes to guiding yourself through one.
1. TRUST IN TIME
After Dad’s success rate, I am certifiably stealing this one. It seems hopelessly “woo woo” but time really is your best friend. You have to give it time. And it’s how you use it that matters, not how long you’ve got. You have to trust in this process, in yourself and know that the decision will almost be obvious in the split second before you make it.
2. WHEN OUR POWERS COMBINE
Two heads are better than one. Talk to people who you both trust and who see things from a different point of view. Match your weakness to their strength. Which is where awareness comes in. Know the things that typically block you, acknowledge and accept your blind spots then fill them with the opinions and advice of people who excel in those areas.
3. HONESTY IS THE ONLY POLICY
Truthfully, this really is the only way to move forward. Being brutally honest with yourself about every aspect of the situation; the real facts, who it affects, the costs, alternatives, pros & cons. Gather all the information you possibly can, get to the real core of the problem, the cause of the symptoms and be completely transparent with yourself and all stakeholders. Ask one of your trusted confidents to keep asking you hard questions until you are forced to let the truth out (something my husband is exceptional at). There is absolutely no use in lying to yourself.
4. LIVE THE PROCESS
You really have to experience the decision. You have to get involved. The answer will not, I repeat will not, just magically come to you if you do nothing. You have to take action, work with the material, gather information and trust in time. The wisdom only comes from the journey.
5. OPTIONS OPTIONS OPTIONS
Really consider all the alternatives. It may not be as simple as option A or B. Maybe there is a sneaky option C waiting just around the corner. Search for him. As he could be the magic you’re looking for.
6. GUT INSTINCT
It’s usually right. Because you actually know yourself quite well. So don’t be restricted by what you think you should do. Don’t be restricted by what others think you should do. Those kind of words don’t help make a decision. After you’ve allowed yourself some time, been brutally honest, experienced the process, made your pros & cons list and considered all the options you will have a feeling, see a sign or hear some advice so spot on that it brings all your thoughts together. And you’ll be free to make your choice.