How to Use Stress for Advantage when Making Decisions

“Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.” Nelson DeMille

3 ways to use stress for advantage:

#1. Schedule decisions.

Stress tells you to wait.

The longer it takes to decide, the more stress you experience. If you feel a little stress about making a decision today, wait a day or two and you will feel more.

Create a decision-making schedule to solve the seduction of delay.

Divide decisions into discreet units.

  1. In the morning gather information.
  2. In the afternoon invite input from others.
  3. Tomorrow morning – after sleeping on it – make the decision.
  4. Sit with your decision for an hour or two.
  5. Declare your decision to relevant people.

Note: The timeline suggested above is too short for decisions with broad impact.

#2. Evaluate weight.

Very few decisions are life or death, but stress makes them that way.

Stress wants you to treat all decisions equally. Life doesn’t hang in the balance when choosing mashed or baked.

Stress wants you to forget that most decisions can be modified or undone.

4 ways to evaluate decision-weight:

  1. Consider long-term impact when evaluating the weight of current decisions.
  2. Acknowledge many options will get the job done. There’s no perfect answer.
  3. Just make a decision and reel it back in if you change your mind, when issues have small impact.
  4. Reconnect with the big picture when small decisions seem daunting. Wandering and confusion mean you’ve lost direction.

Tip: Delegate decisions to people who are most impacted by the decision. (Decision fatigue makes all decisions difficult, even small ones.)

#3. Connect with heart.

Stress goes down when you connect to your heart.

The people-pleaser in you forgets what you really want. You might stress over the approval of others, for example.

Forgetting what you really want magnifies stress.

What does your heart want for:

  1. Team members?
  2. Customers?
  3. Yourself?

How might leaders use stress as advantage when making decisions?