Monday, January 19, 2015

4 Easy Steps to Making Tough Decisions

Decisions. We run up against them daily and wrestle with them regularly. Why the wrestling match? And how do we know when we've won?

The decision is the hard part, but that's not really where we get stuck. We get stuck on thinking that we can figure out the result of the decision before the decision is made. That part is impossible.

When you have a tough decision to make, use these 4 easy steps so that you don't stay stuck for too long.

  1. Layout your options - all of them - on paper. We too often limit our decisions to "either-or" when there are many more possibilities. If we limit ourselves to only two options we often overlook the best decision.
  2. Play a little game of make believe. After you look at what your options really are, play a little game. Choose each one of the possible decisions and write down the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Often times the best case isn't as good as we think and the worst case isn't as bad. If we just play the game in our head we can convince ourselves of whatever we want, but when we get it all down on paper it will become abundantly more clear.
  3. Realize that spending more time won't make the decision easier. We lie to ourselves in our heads when we believe that more time = a better decision. It's simply not true because of what I mentioned earlier. There is NO WAY to know how the scenario will actually play out no matter how long you take. Neither you nor I can predict the future. If you could, you wouldn't be here in the first place. It's time for the hard part.
  4. Make a decision. That decision may be to not change anything - to stay where you are. Every minute you spend consumed with a decision is using energy that you can't get back. We have thousands of decisions to make every day. There is some cool research that shows if you limit the number of small decisions you make that you could get better at making the difficult decisions, but that's a bigger mountain to climb. For today, choose something.
The steps are easy, but - much like dieting - the implementation is that hard part. Good luck!