One of the most noticeable impacts of the pandemic seems to be on our ability to make decisions. We all make decisions every day, some big, many of them often so small they are taken on autopilot with barely an awareness we’ve even made a conscious choice. The people who calculate these things have worked out that we can make as many as 35,000 decisions on a daily basis.
In the current climate, it’s likely that our awareness is higher than usual as the need for decisions about our lives and livelihoods has increased with, doubtless, many further important choices to be made in the months ahead.
Not only is the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones paramount in our mind, the pace of change is both fast and constant and the relevant information often technical. The authorities are playing their part in providing guidance but, as in any circumstances, much is down to our own personal choice.
Parallels with financial advice
For those of us who work in the financial advice industry, there are many similarities with the issues we address in our day job. Much of what we do is planning for the future, and while there are probabilities and likelihoods, we also need to take account of some degree of uncertainty.
There are a number of methods we use to do this. Stopping to take stock, looking at the broader picture, thinking further ahead and understanding how risk affects our choices and emotions – all are concepts we deal with daily in supporting our clients with their financial decisions.
It is our job to translate these variables into a workable way forward and create some security and peace of mind from an unpredictable world. We can put this professional perspective to good use in all areas of our lives right now.
Looking back and learning
With six months of restrictions behind us and the likelihood of at least the same to come, now is a good time to reflect on our actions so far. We might not realise it as we go through life day by day, but we will all have learnt a great deal of valuable lessons that will serve us well in the next few months.
When I think back to where we were as a business in March, we have gleaned insights and knowledge that in more normal circumstances might have taken us much longer to accumulate. Yes, we may sometimes have made the wrong decisions or the odd mistake, but this is just the price of the wisdom gained.
A productive way to address decision-making and to remove some of the pressure that comes with it, is to remember that we are free to review our decisions whenever we like, carrying forward the things that worked and refining those that didn’t.
Reframing the decision-making process
I’ve said many times that no one had a business plan for the pandemic, but people have adapted and been agile in response. In some cases, businesses have got better, seen ways to become more effective for their customers and seized the opportunity to raise their game. In these instances, often in circumstances of significant pressure, our decisions have led to good or even better outcomes than normal.
This also gives us the opportunity to reframe how we think about the decision-making process in our professional lives. Instead of thinking about decisions as something we have to do before we are able to make progress, we can think of them as part of the path of progress itself.
Whether in the fullness of time they turn out to be the wrong or right decision they either provide the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from our mistakes or act as the lever for positive and constructive change.