How do you make the important decisions in your life and your business?
If you don’t have a specific way of weighing up options, I suggest you consider developing a personal decision system. I’m talking about the bigger decisions here, the decisions that we know will change the trajectory of our life quite significantly. Much time and energy can be spent weighing up options, or procrastinating making a significant decision. This is because we don’t have a specific process to help us to make a big decision.
Traditional approaches to making important decisions have often involved weighing up options by sorting the pro’s and con’s of each option. I’m not a fan of this. It makes it more confusing and assumes equal weight for each pro and con, and frankly, that is rarely the case. Some things are more important than others. This is the fundamental base of our values system. Some options will actually make us more fulfilled(as they align with our values) and as such should not weighed as an equal to other options.
Let’s look at an example: If we are weighing up whether to take on a new work role that will mean less time with our partner or family. If we use the pro’s and con’s method, in the pro’s column we would have things like:
Excellent learning opportunities
In the con’s we might have:
Less time with partner/family
We are treating all of the pro’s and con’s as being equal. You may be able to come up with many pro’s and con’s, but the reality is that not all of them are equally important to you. If one of your core values is love/connection, then treating the“less time with partner/family” as an equal factor to all the others is not accurate.
What aligns with your values will always weigh more, will always be more important to you.
So, how do we weigh decisions without talking pro’s and con’s?
I suggest you develop your own decision making system.
It’s a system that you design and use for all of the bigger decisions you need make. Having a system will not only make the process more efficient and less arduous, but it will help you assess the outcomes based on your own unique priorities and values. A personal decision system makes sense, as only you truly understand what you are willing to tolerate and ultimately what will be fulfilling in the longer term for you.
To get you started on creating your own decision system, try one or incorporate a few of the following approaches:
Use a series of questions
You can run decisions through a series of unique questions to help you weigh up options. These should be unique to you, so take some time to reflect on what you really need to assess with decisions. Questions can help you understand the impact of the decision in the short and long term. Some examples of questions you could include:
How will this option affect my life in the next 6 months/5 years?
Who will be impacted by this option?
What will change in my daily schedule?
Would I need to drop something to take this on?
Check it against your values
As I mentioned before, some things are more important to us than others. Everyone has their own unique value system. It’s important to understand your own. Knowing your core values means that you can hold your options up to the values and see if they align. If financial stability is a value of yours, then your decisions can be assessed on whether they impact your financial stability. It does not matter how many benefits an option has, if it will be detrimental to your financial stability, it’s probably not good for you. (Discover your values by reading my blog here.)
Seek professional advice
There are some decisions that do warrant a professional opinion. Some financial and business decisions will benefit from having input from a professional in their field. You still need to understand your own priorities, but it’s wise to incorporate a professional opinion, particularly in regards to areas where you do not have specialised knowledge. eg. getting your accountants advice for a business financial decision.
Visualise the best outcome for each option
If you’re deciding between a few options, it can be useful to imagine what each optimal outcome would be. You can do this by taking each option and imagining the best possible outcome for you if you took that specific option. The trick is to do it for all of the options you’re weighing up. This way you’re comparing apples to apples- best case scenarios to best case scenarios. This helps you to get a sense of if it“feels right” and will help you realise which of the best outcomes would be more fulfilling for you.
Use your intuition
Whether you call it intuition, a hunch or a gut feeling, they’re all the same. You are using another sense(or all of your experience and wisdom) to make the decision. There is no rationalising with this type of decision, you rely on an instinct, a knowing feeling. Some of us are more in touch with this tool than others. If you’ve used your intuition in the past and it’s served you well, then consider incorporating it for all of your major decisions.
It’s hard to see the forest for the trees, as they say. As such, it’s hard to make a decision when you remain in the context of your everyday routine, in the thick of where the decision is. It works to get an outside perspective. It doesn’t take much. I find a day trip out of my city alone can do wonders for perspective. It allows you to on the outside looking in at your current situation. Some people can achieve this by being in nature, or going for a long walk. The key is to relax and free up space in your mind, which enables you to think more clearly.
So, which of these options will you incorporate into your decision-making system?
Would love to hear your thoughts!