Making decisions in uncertain times

Even though it may feel like life in general is a little bit out of control, you will still be in the position where you have to make decisions, including financial decisions, and it may feel like you are dancing on quicksand. 

Here are some thoughts around creating processes for making decisions that may feel overwhelming. 

#1 – Know what your safety net is

When you are making a big decision, know what you need to have in place so that you feel SAFE. 

It is difficult to make a solid decision from a place of FEAR.  

Work out what you need to have behind you or underneath you so that you feel OK about making that decision. 

When we have clients who are setting up investment portfolios, we talk to them about how much money that they need to leave in their bank accounts to feel safe to be in investment markets. 

Do not skim lightly over this choice.  If you leave your safety net a bit too small, it will stress you out.   Consciously work out what you need to have in place so that you feel OK about making a decision and having it work, or not work out. 

#2 – Be very clear about WHAT the problem is that you are trying to solve

You can’t make a good decision if you are not sure what you are trying to “fix” and are not sure why you are even trying to make a decision about this big issue! 

You are ideally going to make a decision about a clear issue that needs to have a decision made about it. 

When you understand what the underlying issue is, you can be really clear about whether the decision is actually going to fix the problem.

#3 – Do you have all of the information that you need to make the decision?

If you are sitting down to make that decision, do you have all of the input that you need so that you can work out the pros and cons of the decision? 

Some decisions require more data than others. 

I find mind mapping is a really useful tool to make sure that I have considered all of the options and to make sure that I have all of my t’s crossed and I’s dotted before I step into something. 

#4 – What is the cost of not making a decision?

Sometimes, decisions need to be made. 

To quote Jim Rohn,

“it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off”  

Not making a decision can cause a lot of mental stress and it also can leave you in that place of powerlessness and subsequent overwhelm. 

We often talk to clients about opportunity cost – the cost of missing an opportunity because you have not made a decision about something. 

#5 – The best decisions often involve a mix of the head and the gut

I have found, over the years, that not all of the best wisdom comes from logic and reasonableness.  

I have made the odd decision when it all looked good on paper and I had researched it to the minutest degree but my intuition was saying “no, no, no…..” and then found out later that my gut instincts were actually totally on point.    

Do not discount your intuition.  

Sometimes you DO need to step out in faith when faith is the final part of the decision process. 


Janet Natta is a financial adviser and director of Smart Money Advice, offering investment portfolio construction and management services to clients throughout NZ, as well as comprehensive financial planning advice to assist clients to build and protect wealth to achieve their dreams.
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