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How to Make Powerful and Fast Decisions

Bridge outside the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. I went to this place on a spur of the moment, a quick decision I was happy to have made!
Bridge outside the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. I went to this place on a spur of the moment, a quick decision I was happy to have made!

Decision making can be tough. At the end of the day our time and energy are our most valuable resources. The ability to make clear and powerful decisions is therefore a gateway to reducing wasted energy on unimportant things and providing a focus towards those things that really matter. Even just the act of decision making can itself suck the life out of you if you let it. Just think about the last time you deliberated over what to eat for dinner, what movie to see, what shirt to buy, what job to take!

I was reading Derek Sivers blog (he’s the founder of CD Baby and a great writer) and he illustrated a powerful tool for decision making. Here is his advice:

Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying:

If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no.

Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.

I tried this advice out over the last few days and it has been incredibly powerful. In fact, you can apply this philosophy too all sorts of things. From figuring out what to eat for dinner, what activities to do or even who to hire. As an example of the latter, I was recently having a conversation with a co-worker about a potential candidate for a position on my team.

The co-worker was wondering if a recent interviewee would be a good fit. I simply said to consider if having the person on the team would get you excited and make you say ‘hell yeah, I want to work with this person.” If no, then there probably isn’t a good fit. The co-worker was clearly not super enthusiastic about the candidate, and this simple question just made his answer more clear to himself.

I also used this philosophy to decide on whether to go out last night. It was already 10pm and I was pretty tired from a long week of work, but I also wanted to see some friends I had not connected with in a while. They were all meeting up and it was sure to be a late night. I asked myself if I would have fun reconnecting with these folks…and of course the answer was “hell yeah.” My decision was made, even though my body was pretty tired. I am glad I went.

Try this little tool out for a week and see how it improved your own ability to make powerful and clear decisions in your own life.

9 comments

  1. Vivek says:

    Ravi,

    I see your point. You are assuming means are not “palatable”. Isn’t that again moving away from the present moment? Kind of like searching for happiness in the future. Or, making your bed all night long but never actually going to bed.

    Btw, funnily enough, there is an old post of yours which says exactly the opposite of what you just said in this post – that one says – say yes, no matter what.

    Personally, I’d go for the “YES” mind. When one has a “YES” mind, nature conspires to support you.

    What say?

    • Ravi Raman says:

      Vivek,

      There is a saying that “the mark of genius is the ability to hold two opposing ideas one’s mind, and still function” 🙂 .

      Start saying yes all the time and you’ll have what I call a “quality problem” –> too much to do! This is a good place to be, and a place where the tool described in this post can work wonders.

      Ravi

  2. Vivek says:

    Ravi,

    Isn’t commitment more important than feeling?

    If I went to med school because I felt “Hell Yeah” and then a year later I quit because that feeling has changed. Then I went to Engineering school because I felt “Hell Yeah” and then a year later I quit because the feeling has changed. And I did this for my entire life – I’d be called a loser, a quitter.

    Of course, we can re-evaluate commitments based on changed circumstances, priorities etc. But changing commitments based on changing feelings (which change all the time for all different reasons), is it really wise?

    • Ravi Raman says:

      Hi Vivek,

      It comes down to the end not the means. For example, if I was going to Med School and couldn’t get myself to say “hell yeah” at the promise of being in a position to help people tap into their true vitality and treat their illnesses…and help people feel better every day – then maybe it isn’t the right choice. So if you can’t get motivated by the outcome…maybe the means are not the right ones for you. However, if you are motivated by the outcomes…the means become much more palatable.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Like it Ravi -especially for us types who get bogged down with so many choices that we allow ourselves to become immobilized. Nice emphasis on “anything less than WOW would not be acceptable.”

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Right now I am going through a major life/career transition. I have been struggling with having to make a big decision and after reading this article, feel much more confident what I have decided to do. Wish I hadn’t wasted so much time waffling. Thanks for the post

  5. Ravi…loving your blog.
    I have been following since my return from the Catskills and have forwarded it on to so many.
    Thanks for the daily inspiration and insights…
    Looking foward to crossing paths again, in the meantime keeping it real in NJ.
    Cheers!
    Nikki Cuc

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