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Will this work? How to make a decision when you’re stuck.

So I’ve been facing a pretty difficult decision over at our sister site, Sapulpa Times. We’re about to open the gates on advertising, and I’ve been struggling with how to handle it.

As a web designer, I tend to loathe advertising. It’s typically rampant with flashy ads that pull users away from the content. Most online ads are intrusive to the reader and ineffective to the advertiser.

But as a business owner, it’s been something I knew I’d have to do from day one, eventually. See, there is literally no other online news outlet in this town. None. Even the local newspaper is dead-tree only. Because of this, there are very few online advertising opportunities for the businesses here. It’s a need that we need to fill, much like the need we’re filling by having this site, and Sapulpa Times.

Still, it rankled me because I wanted to do this well and do it right. I’m very particular about the experience we deliver to our readers, and I wanted to ensure that we could help both the reader and the local business at the same time. In the online news world, where nearly every ad screams at you, that can be very hard to do.

So I’ve finally made the decision to go ahead with this as planned, but I put a very specific qualifier on our prospective advertisers:

You must be a Sapulpa-based business, or one with a location in Sapulpa.

You read that right; for the moment, we’re not going to advertise businesses in other towns, even the ones we cover in our news. Why? Because we put Sapulpa first. It’s one of our core values, and we don’t want to give the impression that we care more about money than we care about our town.

Even so, I’m often plagued by “analysis paralysis” when it comes to decisions that have me wrestling with my integrity vs my need to make a living. I hope you wrestle with it too—it’s probably a good thing. But when it comes down to it, you might be missing out on an opportunity or two because you’re simply taking too long to make a decision. So here’s a few tips to help you out the next time you find yourself struggling internally:

Remember that no decision is a decision. The choice to not make a move is a choice you make, each time you procrastinate. It could be that some serious thought needs to be applied to this dilemma, but don’t let that keep you from making a choice eventually, because you’re doing it, anyway.

No decision is worse than a bad decision. This is not true 100% of the time, but it’s true almost every time. You’re not the exception. If you think you’re going to wait it out and see how it unfolds, the chances are you’re going to handle it badly when it does. Meet the challenge headfirst and deal with the results after.

Forgiveness is easier than permission. This usually comes up when someone is contemplating a decision that is going to make someone else upset or disappointed—like your teenager sneaking out to go to that concert—but the truth rings in this one. Sometimes you need to make a move of some sort for the sake of time, or the sake of dealing with the situation at hand. Your gut tells you to nip it in the bud and in most cases, your natural instincts are right. If it turns out that you were wrong for whatever reason, be humble and admit your mistake to those whom you’ve offended. Do what you can to rectify the situation, but rest in the knowledge that you, as the leader, needed to act.

Set a deadline. Even if you can’t bring yourself to make a decision today, make one soon. If yours is a situation that affects you, your family or your employees, it’s important that you handle it well and with care. Put a literal date on the calendar and if you haven’t made a decision by that time, force yourself to do it that day. If you’re waiting on additional information, make sure you have all the data you need to make an informed decision. Whatever you do, don’t leave your loved ones or your team members in the lurch.

Decisions can be tough, I know. Especially when we have to make the ones that make or break big things, like business deals or relationships. However important it is, it’s equally deserving of your time, attention and your own decisiveness. Hopefully, these will help you the next time you’re facing a situation where you’re unsure what to do.

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