Going with your “gut” is often one of the best choices you can make as a business owner. However, developing a strong “core” (to use the fitness term for the area in your mid-section, your gut) is the precursor to having a gut that is trustworthy. How do you do that?

At the core, going with your gut is a term to define a decision making conclusion. Therefore, teaching yourself how to thoroughly evaluate a decision is the fitness equivalent of developing a strong core.Da-Vinci_human-proportions

Decisions are not black and white. Outcomes are not clear and often have multiple variables. Should we do this show, should we spend on this effort, how much can we …….., the list is endless.

What I did to develop a strong core and a gut that I could trust was simple. When confronted with a decision that was not clear-cut, I used a sheet of paper (yes, use paper) and wrote down all the different options for the decision. Sometimes that was yes/no, go/no go. Sometimes it was how much money. Sometimes it was both. Sometimes it was something else. On the sheet of paper, I would then start a pros and cons list for each possible decision. If yes, then all these things will or might happen. If no, then all these things will or might happen. The end decision is typically a blend of a number of different choices.

After creating what I thought was a pretty good checklist, I weighed the different choices accordingly and made my decision. I then put the sheet of paper in a folder (I actually had a notebook). Every 3 months or so I would revisit my decision sheets and I would evaluate the actual outcomes against the expectations. I would learn from the review what turned out as I expected or not and how successful I had been at anticipating outcomes.

Through this process I trained myself to be a comprehensive thinker. No decision happens in a vacuum. Not spending has positive as well as negative ramifications. Spending has negative as well as positive ramifications. And almost no decisions have guaranteed outcomes.

Keep score, measure progress, adapt accordingly. We are our own coaches (unless you hire one). Taking action, tracking the action and outcome, learning through evaluations and adjusting or simply continuing is the process. It’s not particularly difficult. It does require discipline that most people are not willing to invest. Most people choose not to be as deliberate as they could be and choose not to apply the discipline necessary to achieve continuous improvement in professional development.

It’s all about choices, which is the very first step in decision making and a trustworthy gut.