Decisive action is the forcing function for getting what you want out of life.
Want to grow a 7-figure business? Decisive action will get you there.
Want to have a great relationship with your partner? Decisive action will get you there.
Want to buy a house? Decisive action will get you there.
“You are rewarded in life for taking effective action—not thinking, trying, or even the appearance of giving it your best shot.” – Dusan Djukich, Straight Line Leadership
The Problem: You Don’t Know Which Decisive Action to Take
You know that decisive action is the only way to move forward.
But for whatever reason, you can’t get yourself to make a decision.
You can’t commit to something.
In front of you are multiple options. There are various pros and cons to each. All of them are promising.
Every day you think through these options. You analyze the potential outcomes, risks, and roadblocks.
You project yourself into the future and wonder how you’d “feel” working on the specific project, or living in that specific location, or being with that particular person.
That day passes, and you still haven’t made a decision. The low-level anxiety remains. You repeat the process of thinking, analyzing, wondering, and future-projecting.
Why can’t you make a decision?
Trying to Maximize Every Decision Leads to Inaction
You want to maximize your opportunity.
You want to build the business that has the highest chance of success with the lowest effort.
You want to enter a long term relationship with the person who completely understands you and you love spending every minute with them.
You want to move to the perfect location and live in the perfect house.
But by irrationally seeking to maximize your opportunities, you end up overthinking and not taking action.
Any business idea or business opportunity that comes your way won’t be good enough (in some aspect). You’ll find an excuse not to pursue it.
Any guy or girl who enters your life will be missing something. You’ll keep “looking.”
You’ll never move to any of the new cities or countries you’re thinking of moving to because there’ll always be competing pros and cons to each.
Maximization does not work. It’s a recipe for loop-based living. You’ll be in a constant state of indecision. Nothing is good enough.
Desire for Comfort Underlies Your Desire for Maximization
On a fundamental level, the reason you keep trying to maximize your decision making is because it gives you an excuse to not make a decision.
And when you don’t make any decisions, you don’t need to take any action.
This way, you can remain in homeostasis.
You can remain in your comfort zone. Unchallenged.
Of course, you and I know that it’s the furthest thing from comfortable.
It’s depressing. It’s anxiety-inducing. It’s unexciting.
But it’s what you know. It’s what your biology is fighting for—to stay in balance. To not shake things up.
If you want to take decisive action, you need to battle against the draw of homeostasis. You need to feel the fear, the discomfort, and do it anyway.
The Only True Way to Maximize is to Take Decisive Action
If you truly want to make the best decisions possible, in your life, business, relationships, and everything else…
You need to take action.
This is the only way to achieve anything resembling maximal opportunity.
No one starts an 8-figure business at 8 figures.
No one has an amazing marriage at day 1.
No one lives in the perfect city until they’ve built community.
The best opportunity in your mind requires work.
But you already know this. Your problem is not that you’re afraid of hard work (though, it definitely could be. See: desire for comfort)…
Your problem is that you can’t decide.
Here’s what you need to internalize:
Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action.
Let’s say you want to move to a new city.
You have three choices.
Each day you think about these choices. You read comments from people on Reddit. You go on YouTube and watch videos about the city. You imagine what it would be like to live there.
But you haven’t visited any of these cities yet. Everything you know about them has come from the internet, and from other people’s opinions.
You are not going to gain any more real insight until you take action. Real action.
“But visiting a city is not the same as living in it, so how will I know the best city to live in?”
That’s the point. You don’t know the best city to live in.
You visit them. And then if there still isn’t enough signal—in other words, no obvious choice—then you make a decision anyway.
Best case scenario: you move to city A. After 6 months you’ve fallen in love. You don’t even think about the other options because you’ve committed and you’re making the most of it.
Worst case scenario: you move to city B. After 6 months you absolutely despise it. It’s significantly affecting your quality of life. You know exactly why that is, and you know to avoid it in the future. You move to city A which doesn’t have these things.
In both cases, taking action has led to insight. City A has shown you that you like X. City B has shown you that you hate Y and Z.
Signal-Driven Decision Making
Nine times out of ten it’s better to just get on and make a decision than continue to think and analyze.
Obviously there are times where waiting, thinking, and pondering are necessary and important.
You probably shouldn’t marry the person you’ve been dating for one week. Slow down.
You probably shouldn’t sell your business to the first buyer who inquires.
But when faced with multiple decisions—and especially if you’re in a mode of inaction—the best thing you can do is make a commitment and start moving down that path.
Here’s the important part:
You can’t give yourself an easy out.
If you decide to build a new business, you can’t allow yourself to quit at the first sign of difficulty.
If you decide to move to a new city, you can’t leave as soon as you find something you dislike.
Indecisive people are impulsive people. You need to extend your commitment time horizon.
Of course, not having an out at all will mean you’ll never make a decision. The reason it’s hard to be decisive in the first place is because you over-analyze opportunity cost, you worry about what you’re giving up if you choose path A over path B, and you irrationally think you’re stuck doing what you decide on.
Enter signal-driven decision making.
You make a decision. You’ve committed. You then venture down that path until (and only if) you get a strong signal to do something else or change course.
Let’s say you want to build a business. You can’t decide between building an ecommerce business or starting an agency.
You really can’t decide. Both options seem equally as interesting to you.
But you make a decision anyway because you read this article and realized that the only way forward is by going forward.
So you decide to build an ecomm store.
You’re two years into it, it’s going well. You’ve got more free time and you’re feeling like pursuing a new opportunity.
You’ve built relationships with a bunch of other ecomm entrepreneurs and at least two of them have complained about their marketing performance over the last 6 months.
You’ve managed to overcome the specific problem they’re dealing with.
This is signal.
You explore it more. Turns out this is a very common problem.
It hits you: “I could build an agency to solve this specific problem for ecomm businesses.”
You then make a new decision and commitment based on real signal.
Not “theorizing” or “thinking.” But real life data that’s come to you only from taking action.
Note: you will always get signals when you’re taking action and building things. I’m not saying that you should respond to every signal you get. Sometimes the best thing to do is to ignore the attractive opportunity (like building the marketing agency) and continuing to double-down on what you’re doing (grow the ecomm store even more). It takes wisdom and intuition to do this. But sometimes the signal is so damn strong that you can’t ignore it, and you know it needs to be pursued.
Strong Signals vs Shiny Objects
It’s important to distinguish between strong signals that are actually worth considering pursuing, and shiny objects that are nothing more than a distraction (and usually enter the picture when the going gets tough).
Examples of Strong Signals:
- You get an offer from someone to buy your business
- You connect with a 9-figure entrepreneur who wants to partner with you on a new venture
- You get a dream job offer in a city that you’ve always wanted to visit/live
- You spot a high leverage opportunity in your market based on your acquired expertise and insight
Examples of Shiny Objects:
- You read a blog post about an interesting new business model and you start feeling FOMO
- You come across a good domain name for sale and start thinking about the business you could build around it
- You’re challenged career/business and start fantasizing about doing something else (instead of overcoming the challenge which will be better for your personal growth and professional success)
The Simple Formula for Making Decisions and Moving Forward
Don’t overthink this.
Step #1: Make the best decision in front of you. Ignore the rest.
It should not take months to make this decision. You should just pick the highest signal option.
If you’re stuck between multiple options, then flip a coin if you need to. Just pick something.
Step #2: Start taking action
The decision-making part is over. It’s time to work.
Take the necessary required actions to move things forward, and don’t look back.
Step #3: Keep executing until (and only if) you get signal
If you’ve got strong signal or another opportunity, consider it. You’ll know if it’s worth pursuing.
Step #4: No signal? Keep executing
You can’t force signal. It comes to you when you take action and put stuff out into the world.
If you haven’t got any signals, then keep pushing. Keep working. Keep on the path.
Wrapping it up
I hope you enjoyed this article. It’s more of a note to myself than anything else. I’m a recovering indecisive person.
I highly recommend reading my post on overcoming bottlenecks and removing deficiencies.
Once you’ve made a decision, you’ll encounter bottlenecks, and it’s important you know how to identify them.
Until next time—let’s get it.