Wouldn’t it be great if we could logically and methodically think through the most important decisions of our lives and feel confident that we are making the right choice for the right reason, without second-guessing ourselves, without looking back? In working with dozens of professionals at all levels, making decisions big and small, I’ve come up with ten simple steps to break down the decision-making process. I hope that you also find it helpful.
- Decide to decide. There’s nothing more crippling and stressful than to know that you have to make a decision, and yet aren’t doing it for whatever reason. No matter how high the stakes, how stressed out you are, how many factors are involved, the first step to resolving the problem is to decide to decide. The worst thing you can do is to procrastinate or delay or delegate or rationalize, or whatever-else-you’re-doing that’s not-deciding! (With that said, you may decide that no decision is necessary, or it’s not your decision to make, or that the decision doesn’t have to be made right now, and that’s ok too. Just let it go then.)
- Identify 5-10 criteria for making a decision. In complex decisions, there are so many factors to consider. Identifying each of these criteria will help you break down the pieces so that you can dissect and analyze in unemotional, methodical and rational ways.
- Decide how important each of these criteria are to you personally. Assign each criteria a percentage of importance and make sure that the sum of the percentages equal 100%. It’s important to understand how you personally weigh in on the importance of each criteria before looking at the individual options, before looking at what other people think about the importance of each criteria.
- Then consider *why* each criteria is important to you, and factor in how important each criteria is to other important people in your life. Adjust the percentages based on the reasoning behind your thinking and how important the criteria is for others in your life. Also consider the short-term and long-term importance of the criteria and adjust the percentages as necessary.
- Rank your criteria based on how important each is to you. Do a gut-check to make sure that your prioritized list correctly reflects your thinking. Adjust as necessary.
- Add 2-4 options that you are considering.
- Stack-rank how well each option does compared to the other options for the 3-5 most important criteria. Do a gut-check to make sure that the information is correct.
- Add a new option that you were not considering, but could be an opportunity for you.
- Use the chart to decide what to do. Consider questions such as: Which option looks best? Which option do you prefer? What do you need to negotiate to make your favorite option also the best option?
- Make a selection and move forward based on the many factors you’ve considered. Stand strong in your decision knowing the data and thinking behind that decision is solid. But also be prepared to re-think your choice if things change.
Best of luck with your decision-making! Let us know your best practice for making decisions and/or how this process helped you make a tough decision. We are also happy to share some thoughts about common decisions people make: job selection, car selection, college selection, candidate selection, etc.,