"In my experience as a senior executive in the competitive and fast-paced sporting goods industry, I have seen my share of good leaders.


Figuring the Big Rocks Out: Approaches to Decision-Making


Before you can confidently make a big decision (be it about your family, career or another aspect of your life) you first must establish a solid hierarchy prioritizing those aspects that are most important to you. Picture your life as a glass jar filled with stones, pebbles, sand and water. The big rocks represent the most important features: the tiny pebbles, the miniscule grains of sand and the water are all just filler, meant to squeeze into the leftover space between the larger stones. The big rocks are what make your life full – all the rest is extra. By visualizing your life in this way, it can be easier to assess what matters most to you. From this understanding, it’s simpler to make a smart decision.

Talk It Out

Ideally, one of the best approaches to decision-making is to have a trusted advisor whom you can confide in. From your spouse to your business partner, this person should have your best interests in mind and a clear understanding of what your priorities are. Just the act of speaking can bring relief, and having a trustworthy confidant can help you to better manage your stress and to work through a range of alternatives. If there is truly no one you feel comfortable talking with, seek out other resources like websites or professionals. There is a lot of information out there that can help you assess the risks or payoffs of your decision.

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Check Yourself

Countless people describe real physical responses to stressors in their lives. When your priorities are undermined, it is common for people to experience a range of emotions from anxiety to sadness to frustration, as well as physical reactions, such as nausea, fatigue, or headaches. As most of us now know, the long-term effects of stress can have serious repercussions on one’s health. Therefore, it is critical to acknowledge the first signs of stress and address the issue causing it. Chances are, if you feel nauseous over the paperwork you have yet to sign, the documents need to be re-examined.

Trust Your Gut

Do not make the mistake of ignoring your instincts and waiting for hindsight to confirm that deep down your subconscious already knew what was right. Take just two minutes to do a “gut check” and try to tune in to what your intuition is telling you.

Lifetime Outook

As you weigh options, always try to put the outcome in perspective. As long as your “big rocks” are accounted for, almost every decision you make in life is reversible. If you decide to move and end up hating your new neighbourhood, you can always move again. The worst consequences are financial. Assess what the worst-case scenario is and work your way back from there. As long as a decision keeps your big rocks in place and does not require you to compromise your principles, the risk factor is significantly decreased.

When faced with a daunting decision, remember that you do not have to tackle these challenges alone. Confide in someone you trust, or at least seek information from outside resources on the web or hardcopy. Likewise, trust in your body’s reactions to the circumstances; your instincts may be more in tune with your priorities than you know. Finally, remember that most decisions are not “cast in stone” but rather changeable in many scenarios.

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Julie Nimmons

Julie Nimmons

Julie uses her 30 years’ experience to help CEOs, executives and business owners in her Vistage Group find success in their businesses and personal lives. With positive leadership, a firm sense of prioritization and the commitment to lifelong learning, Julie’s creates a constructive workspace for Group members where honesty, innovation and cooperation can flourish.