Don't wait for willpower to resist the cookies.

How do you make a decision?
To buy a class, a book, a new accounting software?
To advertise, join a new social site, to price that item?
How do you decide what to blog about, what to tweet about, what photographs to share?

Crafting your own business is full of zillion daily decisions, some so tiny we don't recognize that we're making decisions. In order to deal with it all, we fall into automatic patterns of reacting, responding, even of buying.

And this is good. Studies show that we have a limited amount of willpower, and thus it's more effective to have systems to automatically make decisions and take action. But if you're not happy with the results of your automatic reaction, or want to do something new and different, the answer is not to “try harder” but to craft a new process for making that kind of decision.
(This could be anything – from how you share your work, to what books you read, to what you do with your workday.)

The easy way to craft a new decisions-making system is to create a filter.
A filter keeps out all the stuff you don't want and allows in more of what you do want. (Like panning for gold!)
Creating a filter is easy: You make one decision (not a resolution or a goal, but a commitment) and that produces a filter – every decision is filtered through that decision.

For example, you decide (in map making) that this quarter you really want to finish your book. This is your filter. Everything that comes at you – opportunities, ideas, suggestions – it's all filtered through the question: Does this help me finish my book? This is the power of crafting a plan – it makes all your other decisions (and thus, your whole life!) so much easier, and less reliant on willpower.

Another filter that's easy to forget when we measure success by “followers” or “likes” or blog comments  is PROFIT. No, your business isn't just about money…but if you don't have profit, you don't have a business (for the distinction between a hobby + a business, watch this). As a savvy business lady, you filter every product + buying decision through Profit: How does this impact the profit margin? How many units  do I need to sell before it's profitable?
(By the way, it's ok if this makes you a little queasy and you don't know your actual numbers. This is why I'm working on a new exploration into profit.)

Other filters you might use: Customer Delight, Sales, Enthusiasm (my favorite!).

What filters do you use?



5 Comments on The easier way to make a decision: filters

  1. Vanessa
    February 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm (8 years ago)

    Energy is a great filter too. Will this make me feel more (or less?) energized? Not just physical energy but spiritual/mental energy too.

  2. Tara Swiger
    February 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm (8 years ago)

    Vanessa! You’re right! When you say it like that, it reminds me of our North Stars- filters for life!

  3. Stacey Trock
    February 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm (8 years ago)

    I live my life by filters! Or, as I call them ‘easy decisions’
    Some of mine are:
    * No working after 5pm
    * Blog 5 times a week
    * reply to every email as soon as I read it
    * Only check email twice a day
    * Buy healthy foods when shopping (you can’t eat what isn’t in your fridge!)
    * Go to yoga three times a week (I have a pass… so I HAVE to go!)
    * No new companies! (that’s a law in my house… no starting up another company just because I have an itch to do something new)
    I could go on…
    Other people think I’m nuts, but I’m in a routine that’s both relaxing and helps my business be productive 🙂

  4. Tanith
    February 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm (8 years ago)

    Yes! Indecision is one of my biggest plagues, and I’m struggling right now with focusing on my main priorities. I’ll try to think of it this way. (I have a head start – I had an engineering professor who would have loved this. He was obsessed with filters. He liked to compare EVERYTHING in life, every object, every experience, to a filter.)