Episode 57: How to Make Tough Decisions Quickly and Easily with Dana Peever

August 10, 2020

In this episode, Dana Peever, shares the #1 criteria for making tough decisions, the misconceptions, what stops people from making them, and how you can! We also discussed the marketing of her new book, The Decision to Purge: The Year the Skeletons Fell Out of the Closet. If you find it difficult to make those tough decisions in business and/or in life, don’t miss this interview!

Resources mentioned

Website: www.thedecisionsmith.com

The Decision Smith App

Book: The Decision to Purge: The Year the Skeletons Fell Out of The Closet

3 Key Points

Sometimes, people aren’t in enough pain to make a decision that requires them to make a change in their lives so it has to be almost excruciating for them to even be forced to make that decision.

One of the biggest reasons people get paralyzed trying to make a tough decision is that they don’t just look at what they need to decide now, but what’s next, and what’s next after that and it snowballs, they get overwhelmed and then they can’t decide.

The most important thing when making a touch decision is to be honest with yourself.


Ellen: Hi everybody. And welcome to Episode 57. Today my guest is Dana Peever. Her hope is that when you hear her name, you will break into a smile. On top of her zest for life, both her passion and success stem from helping people face the toughest decisions. She’s the creator of The Decision Smith five-step system with its complimentary app, The Decision Smith. It results in a mathematical score and percentage guiding you to make any decision that might be challenging.

She has a psychology degree. She graduated with Bachelor of Commerce degree. We won’t go into all that. You can tell us what’s important.   And she lives with her husband and two kids on the

To celebrate a milestone birthday recently, she decided it was time to do something for herself after having been on a call as a mom and wife as what seemed forever, so The Year of Dana was a resounding success and I’m sure she’ll tell us more about that. So, welcome to the call, Dana.

Dana: Thanks so much, thanks for having me.

Ellen: Well, I’m happy to have you, because I want to talk about making tough decisions.

Dana: Great. I might know a little something.

[2:16] Ellen: Okay. So why don’t you tell us about your story, and then we’ll get into it.

Dana: Sure. I’ll condense it cause it started thirty years ago, and I was sitting in a psychology class, and I had been presented with a very onerous decision-making process from a research-methodology perspective. And I really saw the validity in it. I knew it would be useful. And I went away from that class knowing that they’re hyped to be something that we could use in our everyday lives, something for the layman that would be simple and useful and take into account everything you need to when you’re making a decision. So, I spent the next fifteen years really honing what that system would look like; testing it on myself, using different parameters, and metrics, and algorithms to be able to create what I ultimately landed on.

And so, after I was satisfied with how it was working on me, because my life was pretty good at that point in time, it still is. I decided to start using the system with my clients and to resounding success actually more, more so than I anticipated. And I have some super users who won’t make a decision, a tough decision, it’s not a system that you use to decide where to go for dinner or anything, but, you know, making decisions about moving, work, career choices, that kind of thing, they won’t make a decision without going through the process.

Ellen: Big Decisions!

Dana: So big decisions, big decisions, tough ones that are probably, it would be impactful, not just tomorrow, but for a few weeks or months or years for sure. So, that process morphed into developing an app, which launched a few years ago, The Decision Smith,  like you mentioned, and then most recently I launched a book. So, I’m assuming we’ll talk about that as well.

Ellen: Okay.

Dana: So, that brings us to the present day.

[04:17] Ellen: Okay. So aside from moving, what would you say are some of the tough decisions that people have used using your process?

Dana: I do a lot of career coaching and discussions. So, two-fold really, people deciding what to do from a job perspective or even students deciding what career paths to take, and then what schools to go to. But I also work on the flip side with hiring managers when they’re making decisions about who to hire and who to put in their roles. So, I do a lot of work in that arena, especially with my background in HR and that type of thing. It’s been very beneficial from that perspective. On a little bit more personal note, because a lot of my clientele are women and sometimes, more middle-aged like me, we talk a lot about relationships and the app has been used more than once to determine if they should stay in their marriage. So, there’s so much usage in terms of, what you can apply the process to. I’ve just touched on a few in terms of the spectrum.

[05:27] Ellen: So, what would you say is most important when trying to make a tough decision?

Dana: Being honest with yourself. I think a lot of times when people go into decision-making mode one of the first things they do is try to take other people’s thoughts or advice into account. And so, going through this process, it allows you to do that, but the primary focus is on you. And what it is that your feeling or what is important to you at this point in time? Again, we can bring how other people feel into the parameters of what we’re looking at in terms of your factors, but it’s really about being honest with how you feel about the situation or how you think making this decision or best serve you in the future.

[6:22] Ellen: One thing I wanted to say when you were saying how you used it on yourself first, when I started writing books, it was the same thing. It was like, I found that what was out there was lacking in my opinion. And so, I decided I had to come up with something better and I think that on yourself is absolutely a great way to make sure that it works. But sometimes, also, I just want to tell everybody that sometimes, you can also offer it in beta to other people, if you haven’t done it yourself, as long as you’re just honest with them, that that’s what you’re doing,

Dana: Right.

Ellen: That you don’t have the results yet, you know?

Dana: Absolutely. And I think because it was something I was kind of doing in the background and working full time, it was just a slow burn in the background and that’s when I introduced it to people. It was like, “Hey, I’ve kind of been working on this in the background, are you interested in hearing more?” So yeah, absolutely. And that helps you hone, right?

Ellen: Right, right.

Dana:  That’s what it did for me each week and things just a little bit. So, I was really satisfied with the final product that essentially went to market to the public. Right?

[7:35] Ellen: Well, what do you tell people if you think they’re not being honest with themselves or if they don’t know how be honest with themselves;, do you have any idea?

Dana: You know, I do. I think again, based on the coaching that I’ve done, the HR career that have been in, I’ve really been able to hone my ability to ask the right questions. So, I always tend to be able to dig a little bit deeper than maybe people are willing to go without them even really knowing that’s what happening, you know?

Ellen: Uh-huh.

Dana:  But there have been times where, as we go through the scoring in the last step where the spectrum is really limited in terms of the answers that they’re giving me, and I know right there, and then that they’re just not ready to make that decision, and that that’s okay. That’s one of the things that we talk about upfront. It has to be, for you to make a tough decision, really, you have to feel that pain, right?

It has to be almost excruciating for some people to even be forced to make that decision. And sometimes, if people just aren’t there yet, if they’re, the status quo that they’re living in isn’t too painful for them, they may feel like they need to make a decision, but they’re not ready to. And that’s okay. That’s really okay as long as we identify it, and as long as people are honest with themselves. We’re going back to the honesty piece because I’ll say, “You know what? I really don’t think you’re ready to make this decision. And we can talk about that.” And they’re If they say, “No, no, I really am.” Then I make them dig a little bit deeper and really, really tap into what it is that they’re feeling.

I’ve had people say to me…I’ll ask them a question, and I remember one client in particular when they answered, they gasped afterwards, and I said, “What’s wrong?” And they said, “You know, I’ve never even admitted that to myself, let alone spoken those words out loud. How did you make me do that?” So, it’s actually a really emotional and cathartic process if you go through it, you know, with full intention.

[9:42] Ellen: So, what was this year of Dana?

Dana: So, last year was a big year in terms of a birthday for me; it was my fiftieth. And leading up to that year, I’m a mom, I’m a wife, you, I work a full-time job. And that takes its toll in terms of where you place your priority. Most moms, kids are your priority or running the household or whatever it is. And I sat back and I kind of had a little bit of an epiphany because I felt like I was almost resigned to the next stage of my life and that was more of a downhill slide.

Ellen: Oh no!

Dana: It felt like I needed to pass the Baton to the younger generation and that, I…

Ellen: No, no no. You’re actually, the statistics are you’re the best. And your fifties is like you have the wisdom, you still have the energy. That’s when I started my business, I was 51.

Dana: Exactly. Well, and I don’t know why I felt that way. I just know at some point, when I had to really decipher where my thought process was that’s what I ended up on, but it was quickly dispelled. I was like “Ahhh”, and if you know me, I’m a zest for life and I’ve always got things going on. So, I said, “This can’t be, what can I do to change it? What can I do to make my fiftieth year one to remember?” So, I said about hashtag #yearofDana, and I crossed over a hundred things off my bucket list. Last year I traveled, I went to concerts. On the morning of my actual birthday. I jumped off the highest bungee jump in Canada.

Ellen: Wow.

Dana:  Just because that had been something that I’d been wanting to do for twenty-six years. You know, it was just so many little things that I did for myself.

Ellen: And you know, you’re lucky it was last year or not this year.

Dana: I say that all the time. It’s funny, at the end of the year, people were saying, you know, “What’s next?” And so, we joked, around the hashtag #decadeofDana, but that’s been stalled a bit. And I don’t know if I’d get permission from my husband to carry on like I did last year. But Ellen, what was born out of that year, really back into the decision-making side of things was because I was able to have such a fabulous year, and it’s one that will live in my memories and probably a lot of other people’s memories for a long time, I said to myself, “How can I help other people take themselves back if they’re feeling a little bit lost like I was?” So, I created The Year  or You Challenge.

So, it’s a simple five-day challenge just to kind of get your mindset back on making yourself a priority. And that has helped a lot of people just kind of understand what it is that’s important to them, and what they’re tolerating and make some changes around that. And it’s so great.

[12:53] Ellen: Is that evergreen or do you have to do it at a certain time with you?

Dana: No, it’s evergreen. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. The URL is www.yearofyouchallenge.com. And you can go in and start any time. Again, your year, it’s not a year, it’s a five-day starting process for you, but it’s to help you kick off whatever your year needs to look like for you. You can start anytime

[13:23] Ellen: So, to get back to decision making, are there any particular questions that you would tell people to ask themselves first that you could share with us?

Dana: Huh. That’s a really good question, yourself. I think it really depends on what they’re faced with. A lot of times, before we can get deep into the process, there’s a little bit of research maybe that needs to be done to be able to identify what options they have in front of them. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about decision making in people’s minds, and one of the things that paralyzes them the most, is getting started because sometimes as they envision themselves making a decision, it snowballs, “If I make that decision, well, I’m going to have to look after that. Then, I’m going to have to look after that,” and you know, that kind of effect. And one example I have is someone was having to make a decision about whether or not to change a sports team that they were playing on.

And so in their mind, they were going really far down the path of new teammates, and coaches, and things like that. And as we peeled back the layers, this athlete hadn’t even been offered a position on the new team. This athlete hadn’t even been to the tryouts for the new team, and they had gotten ahead of themselves. So, one of the questions I ask is, “What’s the decision you have to make today? Let’s start with that. So, you’re not paralyzing yourself  by the snowball effect.” So, I think that’s probably one of the primary areas that we focus in on when somebody is making a decision.

[15:10] Ellen: Yeah. I experienced that with clients and potential clients a lot too. “Well, I need you for this, but then what’s this,? And what’s this?, and What’s this?” They’re the same thing. They’re already down the road (looking at subsequent processes).

Dana: Down the road. Right? And again, that, what do you get done? Right? It’s such a, an inefficient way, but I don’t think people necessarily recognize that unless you call them out on it nicely.

[15:36] Ellen: Yeah. So, let’s talk about your book. So, the book is called The Decision to Purge, The Year the Skeletons Fell Out of the Closet, love that. So, what’s the deal with that?

Dana: So really, it’s a compilation of stories of fifteen women who I helped make tough decisions with. So, it just so happened that that particular year, when I sat back at the end of the year, , it had been a pretty emotional a year from a client perspective of a lot of different topics that were pretty impactful and deep in nature had come to light. So, that prompted me to start putting pen to paper. I think actually, that’s not true that didn’t prompt me something triggered inside me because I woke up one Saturday morning and I had this book spilling out of my head, and I sat down that day and I wrote nine chapters that day. It ultimately wound up being twenty-one chapter.

[16:43] Ellen: So, it was you writing, and then stories from other women, too?

Dana: It’s all stories of me helping other women through the decision-making process.

Ellen: Okay, got it. Interesting.

Dana: The decision-making expert guiding them through the conversations and there are deep topics, like I said, we touched on emotional, and sexual, and physical abuse. There are stories of divorce, and adoption and money issues, and they didn’t hold back.

Ellen:  Adoption. I have somebody for you.

Dana: Do you?

Ellen: I have to connect you with. Yes, I do.

Dana: Fantastic. I really love those stories that are relatable and that help people see those types of situations through a different lens. Right?

Ellen: I have a client who is unbelievable, and she has an adoption

story and she actually got the law changed around adoption in her state.

Dana: Oh, wow.

Ellen: And I’m now trying to get her to go, to get it done nationally as well.

Dana: Fabulous, fabulous. Anytime I can connect and hear those stories, I’m happy to for sure.

[18:04] Ellen: Also, let’s see, where is it available?

Dana: Oh, so right now a Kindle version is available on Amazon. We are just in the final stages of doing our print-copy manuscript, as you can well imagine, so that should be up in the next week or two. Okay. And then, same place it’ll be available on Amazon.

[18:29] Ellen:  How long has the Kindle been up?

Dana: Only two weeks.

Ellen: I was going to say it’s always better to get them both up at the same time.

Dana: Yes, yes it is. Yeah. We’re were trying to do it as quickly as possible afterwards. And actually, the book made it to International Bestseller my launch day. So, that was pretty exciting.

[18:48] Ellen: And how did you do that? What did you do?

Dana: Well, I did have kind of a book-launch strategy. I work with who I call “my wrangler”. So, she pulls a lot of strings behind the scenes. But, we did a little bit of a drip campaign, and that type of thing just to garner some interest and some suspense. And certainly, as you know, just sometimes asking people in your close circle.

[19:15] Ellen: How long in advance did you start before the book came out?

Dana: You mean in terms of…

Ellen: Dripping.

Dana:  Not long, not even a week.

[19:24] Ellen: Oh. The reason I ask is this is so interesting to me. There was a woman who recently joined my publishing community Facebook group, and she’s made over $15,000 on her launch. And she was saying how she’s just blown away by the whole thing and how she was like hoping she’d make maybe fifty sales. And so far, she’s made like 600 (She eventually made 750 sales!) So, I went back and I looked at what she did. This woman started like two months in advance.

Dana: Wow.

Ellen: Yeah. And every single day one, two, three posts a day, just relentless.

Dana: Wow.

Ellen: And so, I was kind of laughing when she said she was surprised.

You do the work, you get the reward.

Dana: You do. Absolutely. And I think too, people have different goals with launching a book.

Ellen: Absolutely. Yeah.

Dana: And I think mine was just to tell a story, but to get people more aware of my system. So, I’m not resting all my sales on the book.

Ellen: Right. But, the more sales we get, the more people are seeing the book. So…

Dana:  Absolutely. Yeah. I’m not shaking the stick at the same time.

Ellen: I know, I know. But I want to say to people, it’s like, I work with people and some of them, we start months in advance and others, like you said, it’s a week. Well, we don’t start a week in advance cause we’ve got to set it up, but you know, way less time, way less time. And there’s not one way to get to be a number one bestseller. All our clients are, but how many books you sell can be affected by how long and how big your campaign is.

Dana: Absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree with that. And in my impression, I’m just in my infancy in terms of making this book common knowledge also a lot more work to do. And I think we hit our goal of becoming International Bestseller.

Ellen: Hey, no. it’s a huge accomplishment. A lot of people never get there.

Dana: It is, it was in all fairness, I was really surprised. So, probably like your other client but I’ll take it.

Ellen: Yeah. No, she’s not a client, she’s just a person in the group.

Dana: Oh, okay.

[21:52] Ellen: But like I said, when I see somebody who does really well, I always go to school and go, “Okay, what did they do?

Dana:  Right.

Ellen: “What did they do? How did they do it?” I’m just one of these people who just loves to learn, loves to talk to people. That’s why I do the podcast. I love to hear what people are doing.

[22:06] Dana: And it changes, right? What worked six months ago may not work today. So, you know, ebbing and flowing with the times. And again, keeping up on the trends and what’s working is really nice.

Ellen: But, I also think you have to do what works for you. Like sometimes something can work really well, but if you’re not comfortable with it, it’s not going to work for you. So, you kind of have to balance what works for you, with what’s working.

Dana: I agree wholeheartedly.

Ellen: Like which of which of those strategies that are working are you most apt to follow through on?

Dana: Exactly. Yeah. It’s got to be authentic, right?

Ellen: Right,  absolutely.

[22:37] Dana:  Or, people see through that. For sure. I had a few instances of that myself going through the process where suggestions were made about additional posting and things like that, I’m like, “I’ve done enough for today, you know?” Or, “Hey, can you go out to this group of people?” “Yeah, I will. How about we look at this subset versus the whole thing?” So, again, really certainly pushed outside of my comfort zone, but not so far that it didn’t feel true to me, you know?

[23:06] Ellen: Yeah, I was thinking that too as I was looking at this woman’s campaign, I was thinking, I don’t know if I’d be comfortable posting that many times a day, talking about specifically the book. Yeah. So, that’s where I was saying is you have to feel like it’s okay. And also, it depends on what you’ve been doing up until then. It’s like, I don’t push a lot on my profile page. So, if I suddenly did that it would be a huge change.

Dana: Right.

Ellen: So, if you’re going to do something like that, it’s kind of like ease into it.

[23:38] Dana: In all fairness, I had my first manuscript written four years ago. So, people have known about this book for a long time.

Ellen: Ah. That makes a difference! If they follow your journey with it too.

Dana: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, they were waiting in anticipation for sure. I think about the posting piece too. Perhaps if I, I did a lot of live posting as opposed to scheduling it through with later or something like that. And perhaps if you in advance, set that all up, if it’s something that you’re averse to and just let that go automatically, maybe it wouldn’t push you as far out of your comfort zone.

Ellen: Well, you can do that. I mean, you can schedule a lot of it except the lives.

Those you can’t.

Dana: Right.

Ellen: You can’t do that.

Dana: Exactly. Exactly.

Ellen: Another really good thing you could do. I don’t know if you did this at all, if you could interview some of the women and had done lives on that. You might want to do that when you do the print book.

Dana: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a great suggestion for sure.

[24:46] Ellen: Yeah. So, what’s next?

Dana: Well currently working on a certification course. So, with my system, it’s something as a coach that I’ve used prolifically through the years. I also work with real estate agents who are helping their clients either buy or sell.

Ellen: Oh yeah, that’s a good niche.

Dana: So, from a certification perspective, we’ll be offering, other coaches, real estate agents, hiring managers, the opportunity to learn the process and be able to teach it to other people. I’ve got some tight timelines on that. We’re looking at a fall launch of that. But I’ve also started my second and third books, which are on those categories, the topics of career for the second book, and then real estate for the third.

Ellen: Oh great, so you’re getting more into niche markets with the other books.

Dana: I am. Yeah.

Ellen:  Good. That’s exactly what you should do.

Dana: Thank you. I’m glad for that validation.

[25:50] Ellen:  Yeah, because sometimes, people will come to me and they’ll say, “Well, what should I write about?” And then, the first thing I’ll say to them is,  I mean, yours is a little different cause yours was how you, but it really isn’t, how you help people,  but that’s what I’ll say to them. It’s like, “Well I don’t know what to write about?  “We’ll, how do you help people?” Even if they’re just doing one-on-one,  it’s like, what’s your process? And they’ll go, “Well, I do this and I do this well, that’s your book.” It’s like, you want to get that general thing out there that people get to start to know you, like you, and trust you, but then if you can get into specific niches for it, that’s great.

Dana: Absolutely.

Ellen: Because now you are focusing on exactly what their problems are within that niche. So…

Dana: I hear you. I hear you, Ellen.

Ellen: So,  that’s a good thing. You might want to do another one on adoption. That’s a huge decision.

Dana:  That’s actually really fascinating.

Ellen:  Yeah. Yeah. I mean to adopt, but also to decide to give up to adoption can be really tough.

Dana: And this has become almost a little bit of a brainstorming session cause I also see being able to talk to women who perhaps can’t have children and whether they decide to go to an in vitro route versus a diet.

Ellen: Right. Exactly. Exactly. There’s a lot there; there is a lot there, trust me on that, because I talked to women a lot on their books and these topics come up.

Dana:  I’m taking notes.

Ellen: Yeah. Yeah.

Dana: Thank you for that.

[27:20] Ellen: Yeah. So, do you have any final tips for my audience?

Dana: I think one of the things that I love most about helping people through decision-making is being able to help everybody and people, some people say, how can your system help everybody?

It’s really one that takes regardless of whether you’re a right-brained or a left-brain person, you know, some people are very linear in their decision-making needs and some people go with their gut. This system really marries both. So, if you’re a gut-feel kind of person, but you’re afraid to make the decision because you don’t think you’ve taken all the factors into account or vice versa. All I can suggest is give the system a try because it really helps you put things in perspective. And what it does typically is corroborate your intuition. And by using the system over time, you become more confident in your own intuition. And then, you don’t actually have to use the process as much because you’ve become so adept at it.

It’s kind of like riding a bike, put all the effort in at the beginning to learn how to do it. And then, it just becomes commonplace for you. The people that I’ve worked with who use it, like I say, on a regular basis, can’t imagine facing anything without using the steps of the system that they know. So, I guess it’s a little bit self-serving, but if I can make any suggestions about people that are faced with tough decisions, find something that gives you credence and validity to your thought process, so that at the end that you’re making the right decision for the circumstance that you’re in.

Ellen: I just interviewed Amanda Kunkel a few weeks ago and we talked a lot about intuition. Yeah.

Dana: Great. I’ll have to have a look at that one.

Ellen: Yeah. And what was interesting about her is she calls herself psychic, but she was saying in the call that psychic and intuitive to her are the same.

Dana: Interesting.

Ellen: Yeah. And she works with million-dollar earners who don’t want to take the time to learn how to tap into their intuition, so, she does it for them. Like she psychically tells them what to do. So, you guys also are kind of interesting together.

Dana: Absolutely. Again, somebody else that I’d love to.

[29:55] Ellen: So, how can people contact you?

Dana: I’ve tried to make it easy for everyone. I know I looked back a few years and I had this website and this app and so everything is The Decision Smith. If you need the app, it’s called The Decision Smith. If you need my website, it’s the decisionsmith.com social media, The Decision Smith. So, you can find me at The Decision Smith anywhere you might want to in terms of social media or online.

Ellen: Okay. Great. Well, thank you so much,

Dana: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me today.

Ellen: I’m happy to do it. I love this stuff, and I sometimes need some help with making tough decisions. It’s funny because we were actually going to move before Coronavirus and we came so close. And then, at the last minute we decided no, we didn’t want to go where we were originally thinking of going, and then this all happened. So now it’s like talking about moving we go,  “Well, if we wanted to move now, well, how would we even do that?

Dana: Right.

Ellen: What would it even take? and all that. So, it’s been an interesting time with the whole moving thing.

Dana: Well, I’d be happy to have a discussion with you. If you ever feel the need, I might be able to help you out a little bit.

Ellen: When we get back to it, we’ll figure it out. But anyway.

Dana: Please do.

Ellen:  Yeah, that’s it for today. To get the transcript, go to www. booksbusiness abundance.com/podcast. You’re also welcome to join our Facebook group. That link is on the podcast page. And in the group, you get first notices of new podcasts, the opportunity to ask questions of guests, network, plus take advantage of marketing opportunities. And occasionally I do book giveaways in there, and who knows what else we’ll do down the road.

So, that’s  booksbusinessabundance.com/podcast. And the Facebook group is in there. Also, be sure to pick up your copy of the book, planning secrets guide, a simple four-step guide to writing a best seller. If you want to write your own book or even if you’re already writing books, but you’d like to make the process faster and easier. So, till next time, Bye-bye.


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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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