How To Make Powerful Decisions Based On Values

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.” ~ John Lennon

As business leaders we make countless decisions each day that impact our businesses and the people around us. While not always obvious, most decisions we make spark a chain of events. Even postponing a decision is a decision that has a ripple effect.

As a person who coaches business leaders, I’m allowed behind the scenes on the decision-making process and, on occasion, avoidance of a decision being made. On these occasions I have found that rarely is a decision being stalled because there is not enough information or the future is too uncertain.

Decisions Made Out of Fear

More often than not there is hesitation to make the call because of some underlying fear.

“What if people hate my idea?”
“What if this blows up in my face?”
“Who am I to be making this type of call? I don’t know enough…”
“What if they quit?”
“What if this turns out to be a bad investment?”

What if, what if, what if…

This is what it looks like when we are trying to make a decision while in a place of fear. We slow down and hesitate. Caution turns into paralysis and we dread the decision. We may even begin to wish it away.

Decisions Based on Values

When I’m working with my clients and they are hesitating making a decision, we always go back to what’s important to them and the things they love.

In our work together they have created a vision of their work and life that represents their greatest values. When we talk about their vision and values, their stress level goes down and the answer to their current problem becomes clear.

Make a list of your top 30 values.

Don’t worry about putting them in order just yet; brainstorm for a while and feel free to list more than 30, if you feel inclined. Here are some examples, though these may not be YOUR values: family, ingenuity, learning, creativity, honesty, community, financial stability, prestige, service, love, education, diversity, hard work, health, friendship, beauty, initiative, dignity, etc.

If you struggle with this, go back to your favorite memories and identify what made those memories so special. Then think of some of your least favorite memories and identify what was missing.

Rate each value on a scale of 1-10.

For the ratings, a 1 is not at all important to you, while 10 is critically important. Do not overthink or spend too much time on this task. This is just to give you a sense of your most important values.

Circle the top 10 values and list them out in order of importance.

This step may take some time and you may find yourself struggling with a tie. Think of it like this…If there were a situation where these two values were competing, which would win out?

For example, say you gave both hard work and friendship a rating of 10 but you’re struggling with which is more important. Imagine having to finish an important project that is due at work tomorrow and suddenly a friend calls to let you know their parent has died and asks you to meet up with them. What would you do? This should help you choose which value is more important.

Don’t judge yourself for placing one value ahead of the other. This is about acknowledging openly what your greatest values are so decisions like this do not occur as stressful; they become no-brainers.

Think of a tough decision you are facing and review the list of your highest values.

When we make decisions that are aligned with our values we feel good about them. When we go against our values it creates internal conflict and stress.

Weigh all the options and make the decision that is most aligned with your highest values.

Was that helpful? If you are still struggling with your decision add a comment below to get more guidance.