Briefing Notes: Making Better Decisions

Published: May 24, 2020

“Sometimes you’re running, sometimes you’re walking, and sometimes you’re crawling. It doesn’t matter.” — Tim Grahl


We make decisions all the time, under stressful conditions. So, we’re used to this. We know how to do this, right? Decision making in the current climate, though, requires something extra.

Why this is important
Studies show that stress affects our decision-making process in a negative way.

Stress can often lead to a number of undesirable conditions, including a restriction or narrowing of attention, increased distraction, increases in reaction time, and deficits in the person’s working memory.

All of this means our ability to make balanced decisions is compromised under stress. Ugh.

Thing is, we can’t always delay making decisions until everything is hunky-dory. And with the global situation the way that it is, it’s impossible to postpone decision-making until we’re in better condition because… well, who knows when that will be!

Fast Company suggests six things to keep in mind so that even in times of crisis, we can make good decisions:

Staying present: While the past can be a useful teacher, it can also cloud our thinking and lead us to make invalid assumptions. Being present allows us to block out the noise and to focus on what’s important for the decision we have to make.

Thinking about our values: When we’re under stress, we tend to make decisions based on the reward. When we do so, we risk compromising our beliefs, which can lead to unhappiness and regrets. Best to keep our core values front and center when we’re making choices.

Avoiding decisions based on fear: A fear-based decision will often begin with “I have to…” and end with some negative consequence. Fear-based decisions are disempowering and draining. Instead, try to make decisions from a positive perspective. And avoid starting from an “I have to” position.

Sleeping on it: We need more time and space to think, especially when making big decisions. Sleep helps us process information. And a good night’s sleep improves our ability to take in new information!

Applying logic: This one’s about removing the emotion from our decisions and thinking about the facts. Easier said than done, I know. Think pros and cons.

Trusting ourselves: We know more than we think we do. Once we’ve had that good night’s sleep, thought things through, and weighed the pros and cons, it’s time to trust our feelings. We probably know the right answer deep down.

Bottom line:
The future may seem uncertain right now. We can’t control when things will be back to normal —or what that normal may look like. But we can focus on making the best possible decisions for ourselves today.


I’m so over the phrase “now more than ever” that the mere sight of it can spontaneously induce the gag reflex. So, let’s just agree that upskilling and reskilling are really (and I mean, really) important now.

Skillshare offers thousands of short classes. You can prepare for what’s coming next and secure your career without requiring huge blocks of time and energy. Try Skillshare with the first two months free with this affiliate link.


  • Is making money a skill that we can all develop over time? Nathan Barry (CEO of ConvertKit) and Jason Fried (CEO of Basecamp) say we can. Barry explains the ladders of wealth starting with the most basic (and where many get stuck), “time for money”.
  • Launching a business during a financial crisis may seem inauspicious. Actually, many businesses were created in the shadow of the 2008 recession. The founders of Birchbox and Twilio launched in a downturn and shared tips for anyone deciding whether to pull the trigger or not.
  • As companies plan to welcome back employees to the office, they’re looking to use technology to track our movements at work. PwC – where I worked for almost 2 decades – began pitching its proprietary automatic contact tracing tool “Check-in” to other companies. And businesses are eager to use the technology to help bring people back to their workplaces safely. In case you’re wondering, while the government can’t force us to use these apps, companies can. Companies can require the use of contact tracing by their employees as a policy. Let’s file this under #PandorasBox


“The only thing that matters is that you keep going. The only way you truly fail at a marathon is to stop taking the next step. Sometimes you’re running, sometimes you’re walking, and sometimes you’re crawling. It doesn’t matter. If you’re moving forward, you will succeed.” — Tim Grahl


Remote work may finally be acceptable across large swaths of companies. Leading the movement are large tech giant firms Google (Pichai said the majority of its employees will WFH until 2021), Twitter (Dorsey told Twitter employees they can WFH ‘forever’), and Facebook (which announced that it is planning for permanent remote workers).

Many are anticipating that the evolving future of work will now prominently feature remote work, either as an option or a requirement. You up for this?


… when Frasier entertained us on Thursday nights on NBC? The sitcom which ran for 11 seasons, was created as a spin-off of Cheers, continuing the story of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammar, as he returned to his hometown of Seattle and started building a new life as a talk radio show host — talk about making a career change, right? — while reconnecting with his father and brother. In May 2004, the final episode of Frasier “Goodnight Seattle” was seen live by 33 million people. Ahh. #TheGoodOldDays


Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl

This book unflinchingly bares the naked truth behind all creations and shares the practical to-do list to take you from here to there. The good news? You don’t have to be an Austen or a Michelangelo or an Oprah to create a work of art. The bad news? There is no glossing over the pain, embarrassment, and financial terror necessary to contend with on your journey to mission accomplished. More good news? What lies ahead for you is the realization of your heroic self. The run is worth it in ways you can’t yet imagine. For this and other book notes.


🎙 Speaking of making a career change, or any kind of job change… the one thing you’re going to have to do is update the (dang!) resumé and LinkedIn profile. If you’re like me, this won’t be one of those things you’re excited to do.

On the latest episode: I geek out on all things resumé and LI profile with career coach, Allison Lockett. She’s the one person I trust to help me revise my resumé! We cover the basics for a 21st-century update. And we talk about specific situations like, what if you’re looking to make a pivot to a new field? How do you handle that? Also, what’s the relationship between your resumé and your LI profile?

Ep 131: Practical Best Practices for your resume and Linked In Profile. Listen on your favorite podcast app. Or check the show notes here.


Second Breaks is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to produce and requires paid subscriptions to numerous journals, magazines, and books to get the widest and best source of information. If you find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

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It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US. A couple of months ago, we were saying, “Surely by Memorial Day this thing will be over.”

Well… we’re still saying that. Except that now, we’re talking about Memorial Day 2021. 😳 The good news is that next year, the holiday falls on the last possible date, May 31st. More time for a vaccine!

Enjoy the long weekend, if you’re having one. Though, who even knows what a weekend is anymore, right?

Hit ‘reply’ and send comments, money-making tips, counter-surveillance hacks, and favorite Frasier GIF.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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