Decisions & Time Poverty

Most of us are much better and more prolific decision makers than we give ourselves credit for.

After all, our day is but a sum total of constant decision making:

Should I get out of bed and go to work?

Should I take the back road and avoid the traffic?

Lunch – Egg or spam with my chips?

Do I confront my boss today about that dodgy decision he just made?

Should I go home at five and delight my partner or hang around til six to get that report finished?

All day, day in day out – one decision after another.

So, the Big Questions.

If we are making hundreds perhaps thousands of decisions everyday how come all that practice has not made us masterfully decisive and decisively clever?!

How come we still make big clangers or spend hours, days, years or even decades procrastinating over a decision? A few thoughts.

Time Poverty – Paralysis. We get paralysed about certain decisions because we worry we will make the wrong decision and we ‘don’t have time’ to make wrong decisions’.

Consider most of us have 30 – 60 years remaining life expectancy; therefore, you have all the time in the world to make a decision and course correct if it doesn’t work out. The sailors among you will recognise that sailing a course is just one big exercise in course correction. (If you don’t know your life expectancy go to this link for a projection based on your personal factors:

Life Expectancy Calculator

Time Poverty – Haste. We make hurried decisions that turn out bad. Again, as we are coming from time is short a time poverty mentality. The scarcity mentality produces decisions based on fear. Fear based decisions are often short-term reactions and short lived in impact.

99.9% of personal regrets will be about things you didn’t do and wished you had rather than about things you did do and wished you had not. Regrets for decisions we made can be healed over time regrets for decisions we didn’t take are inconsolable. Believe me – or check out your list of regrets.

Decisions create information and more decisions. Every decision you make will provide information and therefore, an opportunity for momentum. Whilst you can’t guarantee the information and where it might lead at least you are keeping the energy alive. With no decision you can guarantee you will stay as or, where you are.

Get the yardstick out. When faced with a big decision help yourself do the right thing by asking questions such as:

  • Does this decision fit into my identified needs, goals, values and priorities?
  • Does this decision fit into my family’s or businesses values?
  • Does this activity measure up to what my parents have taught me?
  • What does the speaker base his facts on?
  • Do I know anyone who has experienced this?
  • Is this realistic or a fantasy?

Decisions make themselves. However much we believe we are in control of our decisions often times they just rise up from within us when we least expect them and sometimes they don’t…. as much as we would like them too. Sometimes the best decisions we make are really irrational. I remember deciding to buy our current house within 20 seconds of walking through the door – without any idea how we could raise the biggest finance of my life. (Yesterday I spent more time deciding which sandwich to buy in M&S…)

Perfection or Progress. Next time you are stuck just ask; ‘Do I want perfection or do I want progress?’ It works.

Do the Right Thing. Air Chief Marshall Sir Brian Burridge was the Commander in Chief of RAF Strike Command. “I remember as a junior officer in a command position, vacillating about the appropriate punishment for one of my less well-disciplined airmen… he had transgressed – again. How should he be punished? What did the ‘system’ expect? Surely the system was watching my every move and what would ‘it’ think of me if I went against the grain?”

“Away from base on a course, I revealed my dilemma to an experienced, but not particularly senior commander. His advice was simple but telling – ‘Do what you think is right!’

“I now realise that, having the moral courage to do what is in your soul which may go against the grain of the organisation, is fundamental to your intrinsic motivation as a leader. To go against your intuition and find that, actually, you had misjudged the system’s expectations or that it had no expectations at all, undermines the faith in your own judgement. More importantly, if the situation created by your inferior decision becomes unravelled, you will never forgive yourself.”

What I notice with clients is that as soon as they start to base more of their decisions on what they think is right, the quality of their choices is enhanced and so their success and personal fulfillment.

Get out your paper & pen make a note of those decisions pending and make a commitment to yourself against each. (NB The commitment may be to not rush the decision and to see what unfolds)

Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.


  1. Fantastic article Paul! Keep it up!