How Successful People Make Decisions

In Tips, Tricks & How To's by Jo Garner0 Comments

Are you trying to make some important decisions?  Here are three ways successful people make smart decisions. You will find how three decision making habits of successful people work in various situations.  I use an example from my mortgage customers.

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To Your Success,

Jo Garner, Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS# 757308  (901) 482-0354



Think back to a time when you felt really good about making a big decision, because you knew that you knew it was the right decision. Even later in life you still look back and pat yourself on the back for making that smart decision.

Columbia University did a study that revealed that we are bogged down by 70 decisions a day. Some of these are minor like what to eat for breakfast and lunch, what to wear and whether to take the by-pass or a back road to work. Other decisions can be difficult like deciding between two job offers, how much money to invest in a business strategy or whether to move to another city for someone you love.

Two Traits For Making Smart Decisions-Do It Early & Watch Out For Emotions

The first known trait for successful people making smart decisions is to make the big one early in the morning when the mind is fresh before the phone starts ringing the emails start dinging.

The second known trait of successful people making smart decisions is to pay attention to emotions. There is an old saying, “Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.”  Very true, don’t you think?

Talent Smart has tested over a million people and found that only 36% of us are able to accurately identity our emotions as they are happening.  Successful people ask themselves these questions before making a big decision:

  1. How does this decision benefit me?
  2. How does this decision hurt me?
  3. Would I regret making this decision?
  4. Would I regret not making this decision?
  5. Does this decision reflect my values?

My Decision To Be A Mortgage Officer

I’m Jo Garner and I have been a mortgage loan officer for almost 30 years. Even through the ups and downs of the mortgage business, one major reason I am still passionate about doing what I do is because I get invited to walk with my clients on their  journeys to one of the biggest purchases in their lives-buying a home or restructuring the financing that will make their life journeys much better.

One of the biggest traits that sets me apart from many of my competitors is my commitment to do the best I can to help my clients be successful in making a smart decision when it comes to their mortgage. Here are the questions I ask my clients to ensure that the loan program they get will be one that will help them now AND five years are ten years from now.

  1. What is the maximum mortgage payment that is comfortable for you?
  2. What is the maximum down payment or move-in costs that is comfortable for you?
  3. How long do you plan to keep the house?
  4. Are there any significant changes you see in your financial situation over the next five years?

Lindsey’s Experience With Making A Big Decision

Let’s eavesdrop on a first-time homebuyer client who really wants to make the right decision on whether to buy a house or rent.  

Lindsey has just graduated college with a business degree and has landed a pretty good job right here in town. She feels pretty certain she is staying in the area for the next 3 years or more, but what if she has the opportunity to be transferred with a promotion? She is grinding and pacing over whether to buy a home or rent.  She keeps putting off making a decision because she doesn’t want to regret making a bad choice.

Lindsey and her mother called a realtor that had been referred to them by close friends who said, “Pat Goldstein is the Gold Standard in Real Estate.”  Pat met with Lindsey and her mom and really listened to what was important to Lindsey. Lindsey had given me, her mortgage officer, permission to talk with Pat. I sent over the mortgage preapproval information so Pat would know the right price range and mortgage parameters.

Pat Goldstein selected some houses that would be in an acceptable price range and had amenities of the greatest interest to Lindsey.  Pat and Lindsey and Lindsey’s mom went shopping for the perfect house.  

I made sure the mortgage terms also fit Lindsey’s comfort level on a house payment and move-in costs too.  We chose a low fixed rate government mortgage that had an assumability clause that would allow someone later to assume the loan from Lindsey if the market was tough at the time she needed to sell.  Pat showed her homes in stable neighborhoods that had some increase in value, just to make sure Lindsey would have room to make a profit should her career cause her to have to transfer to a different city.

The Third Trait For Making Smart Decisions-Gathering Facts & Good Advice

Even though Lindsey was excited when she found the perfect house, she sat down and asked herself the questions that successful people ask when they make big decisions. Here are some of the facts that let Lindsey know without a doubt that she was making the right decision to buy the house instead of trying to rent:

The homes in the neighborhood where Lindsey wanted to buy had rent rates of about $1,300/month and rising about 5% per year. The total house payment on a government FHA loan was going to be around $935/month including taxes and insurance and FHA mortgage insurance. 

Lindsey consulted with a tax accountant, her realtor and me, her mortgage officer. If she bought the house,she would be:

  1. Paying almost $400/month LESS by not having to pay the higher rent rates.
  2.  She would avoid the steadily rising rents in the area at 5% or more each year in rent hikes.
  3. Her tax accountant showed her how she could write off the mortgage interest to reduce her taxes owed to the government.  “Hmmmm…..getting a tax refund each year would be nice,” she thought with a smile.
  4. Her mother gave her a gift  for the down payment and some of the closing costs and ask the seller to pay the rest.
  5. Even if she did end up having to transfer out of the city with her new job, she had at least three exit strategies to avoid getting stuck with the house

-First she could get Pat to sell the house.

– Second, even if she couldn’t sell outright, if the mortgage rates had gone up by then, she might attract a buyer who could qualify with her mortgage company and be allowed to just assume the mortgage obligation with the lender’s permission

-Third, with the rent rates going up so fast, she could get Phillip Kemp with Reed and Associates to rent the home to reputable tenants and manage the property for her, hopefully at a nice profit.

When Lindsey went to close on her house that day, Pat, Jo and Lynn were there to celebrate with her.  Lindsey, announced with a confident smile, “I know that I know that this is the right decision.  Let’s do this!”

Decisions To Connect

Who do YOU know who is trying to decide whether to buy a home or rent in the Memphis area? Who do YOU know who is trying to decide to buy a home or rent anywhere else in the country? Please give me an opportunity to ask them the right questions?  

Who do YOU know who is short on cash flow each month because of high interest rate credit cards or other debt?  Please connect me with that person.   We don’t have time today to share success story after success story of how we have restructured debt for clients allowing them to clear off the high interest rate debt and consolidate to a very low fixed interest rate and STILL pay their mortgage off early.

Let’s do coffee!  Other good referring partners to bring along for our coffee  meeting:

  1. Realtors
  2. Certified Public Accountants CPAs
  3. Wealth Advisors and financial advisors
  4. Family Attorneys
  5. Builders


Video Credits

Production by Mark Thompson of V2 Media

Actors  in the video from Greater Memphis BNI Chapter

Pat Goldstein, Crye-Leike Realtors TN and MS (901) 606-2000

Lynn McDonald, Top-Rated Insurance Agent with Erin McDonald Insurance Agency  You are in good hands with Lynn. (901) 849-7101

Olivia Magill, Doterra Health and Wellness Products (573) 247-9274

John Lawhon, Lawhon Landscaping and Design (901) 754-7474


About Jo Garner

cell: (901) 482 0354


  Twitter: @jogarner

Jo describes her job description: As a mortgage loan officer, my job is to give my client the benefits they want from their financing terms– listening to my client and determine what’s of the most value to THEM–  What is their comfort level on a house payment, how much are they comfortable paying down, what type of financing do they need to get the house they want to buy or refinance. Different clients have different priorities in life—some are buying their first home with very little down payment funds.  Some are recovering from medical challenges, divorces or preparing to send children to college and some are embarking on a long term goal of buying properties to build rental income. Whatever their personal priorities are, my job is to put together a mortgage with comfortable terms that will help them achieve their goals.”

Jo Garner is a mortgage officer with extensive knowledge in tailoring mortgages to her customers who are refinancing or purchasing homes all over the country.  She offers conventional, FHA, VA or other loan programs for refinancing and purchases.  

Jo can help you look at rent vs buy, when it makes sense to refinance, how to get the best deal on your home  purchase financing.   

Jo Garner  has been in the real estate/financing business for over 20 years.  She got her start in Portland, Maine where she first began her real estate career. She received her real estate education from the University of Southern Maine  and was personally mentored in San Diego, California  by Robert G. Allen, author of Nothing Down, Creating Wealth and The Challenge. 

On moving back to West Tennessee in 1987, she went into business buying and selling discounted owner-financed notes secured on real estate.  In 1990 Jo went to work for a residential mortgage company and has been a mortgage loan officer for over 20 years.  Her goal is to offer excellent, affordable service to her customers, tailoring the loan programs to the specific needs of her clients.  

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