Episode 14: How to Make Decisions When You’re Stuck

with Sarah Petty

how to make decisions

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You might be in a season where even the simplest decisions trip you up. You are avoiding every decision from what to make for dinner to whether you should rebrand your photography business. You’re stuck in a rut, seconds away from a toddler in target meltdown and it feels pretty terrible. I’ve been there. I’m going to share a tool with you that I use when I’m stuck. It reminds me of what’s important, and it serves as a filter to help me make decisions quickly in my photography business. 

It’s funny because the first years I was in business, I felt like every day I was remaking the same decisions about my photography business.  I remember being asked about donating to auctions. Should I change my prices? When should I reprint my prices? Should I change my website? I still felt like I was guessing or I was stalling or I was avoiding making them. Do you ever feel this way?

I would come across challenges and I would stew on them. Should I do this? Should I not do this? What if I hold off till later? How can I fix it? Should I just do the opposite of what I did last time? I would think, “I did this last time. I don’t know if it worked or not, but let’s try the other way. What if I totally make the wrong decision? Could be bad repercussions. People could laugh at me or talk about me.”

I think what a lot of us do is we just get paralysis by analysis or decision fatigue. I heard my selling coach say recently, “More money is lost because of indecision then bad decisions.”  Every day we make so many decisions, but we put off the important ones. 

Simplify Your Decisions

Decision fatigue, it is a real thing. We have to make decisions all day long. So, I try to simplify my life. I simplify what I wear each day by purging my closet and trying to keep it clean and simple, which I’m not always good at.

I eat the same thing every day for breakfast, so I don’t have to think about it. I eat an omelet with cheese, an avocado if I have one, and a hot tea. I eat a smoothie for lunch most days. It’s as easy as it can be.

Do you remember Simon Cowell from American Idol? In an interview, he said he has a closet of black and white T-shirts that he wears. Sometimes he wears a white collared shirt, but he said, “I don’t have to think about it. I’ve got other things to do with my brain.”

I remember thinking at the time. Oh, my gosh. My closet has clothes everywhere because I save things in case one day I might need them. Picking out clothes is zapping my decision making energy for the day. So, I went through all these things in my closet. I hate when I have a zillion decisions because at some point I just can’t make anymore. I just shut down.

Make Better Decisions In Your Photography Business

If you struggle with making decisions, these eight decision-making helpers are going to be your best friend. I’m going to share four today and four in episode fifteen that will teach you how to make decisions in your photography business even when you’re stuck. 

Number one, imperfect action beats perfect inaction. It is more important to be moving than stuck. When you’re stuck overthinking a project to death, remind yourself that done is better than perfect. It’s always better to get it done even if it’s imperfect. That’s number one, imperfect action beats perfect inaction.

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

Number two, take action even when you’re scared. When I’m coaching photographers, I work with them and hold their hands to get their first thousand dollar client. It’s scary for them. None of the things that they have to do are hard, but it’s hard to take action when you’re scared.

What I’ve noticed from teaching photographers for years, is the number one thing that’s different from photographers who succeed and photographers who don’t is who takes action. The ones who take action succeed faster. 

The thing I also love about taking action is that it forces you to prioritize. You can only act on one thing at a time, which means when you make a choice like investing in yourself, you will make that a top priority. That’s just how it works. So, even when you’re scared, sitting there isn’t going to help you, taking action is.

Reframe Your Mindset About Failure In Your Photography Business

Number three, failure is actually learning. Failure is going to happen. Most business owners and entrepreneurs who are successful have failed. One of my students, Jill Libhaber, has the best perspective when things don’t go as planned. I always hear her reframe failure in the form of what she learned.

I told her, “Hey, tell me about a failure you’ve had, would you?” She said, “I just don’t have any, every time something doesn’t go right, I’ve learned so much that I would never call it a failure.” Failure doesn’t pull you down. It lifts you up.

Successful People Don’t Make Excuses

Number four, I squash excuses. You can have success or you can have excuses, but you have to pick one. In one of my first jobs, I was in advertising sales. I was cold calling, walking into places. I came across a lot of struggling business owners. I heard so many excuses for why their businesses were failing. They had an excuse for everything.

Then I got my dream job as a marketing director at an advertising agency. The clients who would hire us had larger budgets. If they didn’t have a media budget, they definitely couldn’t afford us. So, these were larger clients who were successful. They were tenacious. They didn’t have excuses. They didn’t play the shame and blame game. They found another way.

You can buy into excuses and start using them, but as long as you are, you’re not going to have success. You have to pick one, success or excuses.

These are four of many things on our manifesto. I hope you can join me again next week for four more, so you can get better at making decisions in your photography business. Remember, more money is lost on indecision than on bad decisions. You got this.

connect with portrait photographer Sarah Petty on instagram to make better decisions in your photography business

Sarah Petty Podcast How To Save Your Photography Business

I'm Sarah Petty

I’m a photographer living in the middle of a cornfield (central Illinois), momma of three teenage kiddos (plus a cat & dog) and an educator for all things photography business. Favorites: Earl Grey Tea (not coffee!), anything orange and clothes that are made for tall girls 

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