It’s all about choices – Part 2

Last week we took an initial look at the issue of making choices. This week we’ll conclude with some strategies you can implement right now that will streamline your decision making process.

You’re going to see words and phrases here that I often use in discussing the strategies within the Straight Line Persuasion System. That’s because the Straight Line contains a set of universal standards and solutions that can be applied to just about every aspect of your life, not just selling. So no matter what you want to excel at, even if it’s something as nonspecific as leading a happier life, you’ll find answers in the Straight Line Persuasion System. Okay, let’s get down to business …

Remember your “why!”

This should not be a new concept. We’ve discussed it here in this blog and it’s a fundamental part of all my training systems. Your why goes hand in hand with your vision. Your why helps to clearly define your future and a direction or pathway to that future.

But don’t limit yourself to believing your why is only for the big picture in your life. Your why should be an important consideration for every occasion.

A simple example: you need to buy a new computer. You may need to make choices about brand, model, processor speed, RAM capacity, upgradability, warranty, price and a host of other considerations. Where do you begin? You let your why filter your choices.

Will this computer be your workhorse or just a backup? Will you be rendering processor-intensive graphics or just doing word processing? Will you be replacing it next year or will you keep it ’til it dies? Is your budget unlimited or really tight? Once you have all your answers your choices become simplified very quickly.

Just as a side note, if you went to a computer store and you encountered an expert salesperson, these might be some of the questions you’d be asked that would enable that salesperson to choose the best computer for you. So right up front you’re using your why as a basis for gathering your own intelligence.

Remember the “good enough” factor.

I always stress that you don’t have to be an expert before you begin selling. Some people spend all their time preparing to be great and never get out into the real world and incrementally become great.

By the same token, some people spend all their time preparing to make a decision and never get around to actually following through! In the case of our example computer purchase, you could spend hours, even days, researching online and comparison shopping. For what?

Sure, you want to make the best choice. I get that. But beware of setting a false perfectionist trap for yourself. There is a point of diminishing returns where more time and energy invested may produce more choices, but not necessarily better choices.

You’d be way ahead of the game if you were to choose the computer that’s good enough to satisfy your most important requirements rather than seeking out the perfect choice for all your wants and needs.

The object here is to satisfy enough needs to make a reasonably acceptable decision. So if your must-haves are speed, ram and price, concentrate on those three features and treat everything else on your list as icing on the cake if you get them.

Good enough is not limiting, it’s liberating! But only if you …

Remember your “standards.”

This is another concept I often discuss. Your standards dictate what is acceptable to you in every life situation. They are the litmus test for your good enough. We set standards for ethics, income, buying choices, where we live, who we work for, work with, accept as friends and ultimately who we marry.

If your personal standards have been a blessing to you, then stick with them. If they’ve been more of a curse, then it might be time for some adjustments.

Few things in life are carved in stone. So it’s okay to do some tweaking, experimenting and even failing if that’s what it takes to solidify your own personal standards. Once you’re comfortable with your standards then you’ll know exactly what your good enough is in any given situation.

Satisfice instead of Maximize

Everything discussed so far can be neatly wrapped in a package called “satisfication” – a word coined in 1947 to mean the point when a sufficient thing or things are available to render a satisfactory outcome. In our example, once your need for speed, ram and price (the things) have been met, you are free to make a purchase decision (satisfactory outcome). You are a satisficer!

A maximizer on the other hand, can’t make a decision until all those other things (the brand, the model, the upgradeability, etc.) have been investigated. The goal for the maximizer is to achieve the highest degree of satisfaction by leaving no stone unturned.

Here’s the rub …

Maximizers tend to be less happy with the choices they make. They won’t settle for anything less than the best so they exhaust themselves in their investigation. Then, once they’ve made a choice they’ve already set themselves up for self-doubt simply by the complexity of the decision they just made. The more complex the decision process the greater the possibility for error, the greater the dissatisfaction with the choice. If you’re a maximizer, stop beating yourself up!

Here’s the good news …

Satisficers are perfectly happy with good enough. Their interest is in what gets the job done. Their approach is simple, yet they don’t lower their standards. Instead they prioritize, which allows them to choose the maximum benefits in the shortest amount of time while expending the least amount of energy.

In Part 1 of “It’s all about choices” I wrote that limiting the choices we make can have some positive benefits – increased self-control, patience, willpower and creativity. You can also add happiness to the list.

Satisficers, those who make an effort to self-limit their choices, are better able to cope with life stresses, are more ready to make choices, are more comfortable making independent choices, and have far fewer regrets about the choices they make.

What’s next?

If you’ve done what I suggested in Part 1 you have or are working on a list of the choices you make every day. Now begin studying your list and rate the importance of each choice you’ve made.

Of those that are least important, what would have been the consequence had you not made the choice at all? In other words, could that choice have been eliminated without you suffering any ill consequence.

That’s an important question because you’ll be fighting a natural tendency to want access to every available choice because you don’t want to miss out on anything. But by letting go of the less important choices you free yourself up to explore other options that may prove more valuable to you. And by not expending your energy on lots of little choices, you keep it in reserve for when you do need to make important choices.

All this is a process that’ll take some getting used to. But with a little patience and diligence you can create a decision making system for yourself that will prove valuable in both your business and personal lives. Perhaps the most important outcome will be that as choices come easier to you and with less regret, you’ll learn to trust the choices you make, making the next choices even easier to make.

All the best,