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How Taking 15 Minutes Can Help You Make a Tough Decision

Right now as entrepreneurs, the need to make crucial and time-sensitive decisions have never been greater. 

With such a rapidly changing landscape, many businesses are having to make quick decisions about laying off staff, scaling back, or even shutting down. 

Although the inherent problem with time-sensitive decisions is that they can often push you to do something you might later regret. 

This article presents a few simple steps that can help you make difficult decisions quickly. Here we go: 

  1. Take a 15-Minute Timeout

Nearly all business decisions — even very pressing ones — can afford a 15-minute delay. If you don’t take that time to give yourself some space, you might just spend a much longer time wishing you had. 

  1. Shift Your State 

Abraham Lincoln had famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

When you take that 15-minute timeout, the first thing you want to do is shift your emotional and mental state to a position where you can powerfully respond to life rather than merely react to the things that are coming at you. 

Of course, when you’re forced to make a tough decision, you may be stressed, tired, or angry. All of which are not states that you want to make that decision from. So, there is a need to shift your state. 

Brendon Burchard, author of the book, High Performance Habits, has a method he teaches called, “Release Tension, Set Intention.” It goes like this:

  1. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and command yourself to release all the tension in your physical body, mind and spirit. Alternatively, you can just focus on each part of your body, while breathing deeply and repeating the word release in your mind.
  2. Once you feel you have released some of the tension from your life, it’s time to move onto the next part: SET INTENTION. This means you think about your goals and what you’d like to achieve from your coming decision. For example, you might ask yourself, “What is the direction that I want to go with my life and business? How can I make a decision that best aligns with that?” 
  1. Take a Few Minutes to Process the Decision

Once you’ve shifted your state, you may still have about 7 or so minutes left in your 15-minute timeout. What you might want to do is take that time to quickly process your options and make a thoughtful decision.

If you have a colleague, mentor or friend who you typically talk through your business problems with, try reaching out to them and have a quick conversation. 

You might want to make a pros and cons list. Or take a few minutes to research some more of your options. Whichever you choose, that 15-minute break will be a small investment that leads to a more clear and deliberate decision.