I was standing in the store tirelessly staring at two fabric swatches. The oh-so-patient salesman was giving me my space and my color-blind husband was sweetly trying to help me decide.
After hours of couch shopping, we found the perfect one, but then I had to decide which fabric I wanted (after making no less than 10 other decisions first).
On the best of days, I am not the greatest of decision-makers. I can easily get stressed out about which color shirt I want to buy let alone a semi-permanent, large, unreturnable decision like a couch.
I had been thinking about getting a new couch for years. I saved all the images I liked and had a pretty good vision of what I wanted. We had talked about it endlessly and made our measurements multiple times and felt like we were finally ready to purchase.
But who knew that I would struggle so much with deciding on which color to choose?!
As a designer, you’d think that color would be an easy decision for me.
But truth be told, I probably know too much about color which may have made the decision even harder. I knew I wanted a warm neutral color, not too light, not too dark. But I didn’t want it to look too yellow or too grey either. I also know that colors change in different lighting and environments. So one that looked just right in the showroom might be totally different in our home.
And those were the kind of thoughts that were circling my head for an hour trying to decide (my poor husband was a trooper and we had the most patient salesman helping us). At least I had narrowed it down to 2 out of hundreds pretty easily, but it was still a tough choice.
In the end, I went with my gut and hoped for the best. You’ll never make a more difficult purchase than one you have to make sight unseen for thousands of dollars nonetheless. 😅
So what can we learn from my borderline indecisive couch-shopping experience that we can apply to our businesses?
1 – Sometimes you just have to make the decision.
You can mull over it for hours or weeks and still not really know what to do. Even when I finally made the decision on which fabric to go with, I still wasn’t really sure. But no matter how long I stood there staring at those 12 x 12″ swatches, I wasn’t going to be any more confident. I knew either one would look good and I just needed to make a decision. When we are faced with two options in our business like this, sometimes we just have to go with one. Knowing that either option will produce a good outcome, we just have to choose.
2 – Not every decision has to be monumental.
Picking out a couch felt a little monumental to me, but not every decision has to be like that. I think I will fret much less over what pillows to put on the couch or which coffee table to buy because those are lower-commitment decisions. We have to learn to recognize which decisions need to be categorized as monumental and which ones are lower-commitment. Everyday decisions that won’t really have a huge impact on the big picture need to be made quickly and without hesitation. You can make those decisions and move on so that things keep moving in your business. There are truly few monumental business decisions that need to be made so when those come up you can give them the attention they deserve.
3 – Consider the options and trust your gut
Mid shopping experience my husband said to me that people are usually drawn to the right choice first and that I should go with the first one I had picked. Your gut instincts are usually right – not always but they are definitely a good indicator to guide you. When we first entered this store it was the first store we went to and we both liked the first couch we saw. We found out we were able to choose all the elements of it for a custom-built couch and I picked out one fabric that I really liked “just in case” we decided to buy it. Hours later (and after multiple other store visits) we came back to buy that one. And in true fashion, I had to pour over every detail to make sure we were making the right choices on each thing, including the fabric. After looking over ALL the swatches again I found more that I liked, but guess which one I chose – the original one I liked that morning. My gut was right (at least I hope – I’ll update you on that once the couch arrives). The moral of the story here is to consider all the options, but also trust your gut. There is probably a reason you are drawn to one thing over another.
In essence, purchasing a new couch was a stressful experience for this indecisive woman. For someone who likes to see all the choices, weigh my options, put it in my cart for a week, and then buy, it was a lot. But ultimately, it was a good experience to stretch my decision-making skills and the same can be said for a big business decision you need to make too.