Four Ways to Make Decision-Making a Little Easier

Decision-making is top-of-mind because I have a many decisions to make in the coming months, large and small. Naturally, I’d like to have a good way to make them. I suppose some of you may be interested in the same? Maybe you’re considering a leap into the self-employed life. Maybe you’ve been given a new opportunity with your current company. Maybe you just need to decide if you should say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a new project. Regardless of what your current dilemma is, I think one of the following four techniques can help.

Make a list.

This is a tried-and-true method. Pull out a clean sheet of paper and a pen and you list the Pros and Cons. Then, you see which column has more weight and that’s your answer. It’s an way to approach a decision with logic and order, so it’s worth trying. (Full disclaimer: it doesn’t work for me. I’m really good at tricking myself into making both sides of the list balanced. At the end of the exercise I’m usually more torn up about what to do than when I started. But it might work for you!)

Try it on for 24.

My mentor recommends that if you’re considering a change, you should spend one day living as if you have said ‘yes’. For that 24 hours, pay attention to how you feel. Worried, weighed down and unhappy? Say, “No!” Excited, energized and upbeat? I think you know the answer.

Create an alter ego.

This technique riffs off the previous strategy, but is more involved and works especially well for big decisions. When I came to a sticky time in my self-employed career, someone walked me through this mental exercise that I now call ‘creating an alter ego’. Imagine you are yourself, but there is another person who is exactly like you and is in the exact same position as you. He or she has the same passions, talents, experiences and drive. Give that person a name. For illustration-sake, let’s name our alter-ego Julie.

You and Julie start at Point A. Point A is today. The decision-making. You go one way (just pick one side of your decision – it can be either side), she goes the other. Imagine walking away from each other.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel?
  • What are you worried about?
  • What are you excited about?
  • Now imagine that it’s a year from now. This is Point B. You and Julie get together for coffee to catch up.

    Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel toward Julie?
  • What does Julie know that you don’t?
  • What do you know that Julie doesn’t?
  • What did Julie get to do in the last year?
  • What have you done in the last year?
  • Do you want to be Julie?
  • You can take this even further and reconvene at a Point C, five years down the road too, if you’d like. I’d be really surprised if this imaginary friend didn’t help you make your decision.

    Flip a coin.

    Sounds stupid, huh? Stick with me. What’s a decision you’ve been trying to make lately? Once you have that in mind, pull out a coin. Now, determine which side of the coin represents which side of your decision. Ready, set…flip! When the coin is mid-air…in that suspenseful moment where movie producers consistently insist on slowing down the film speed to an agonizing crawl…listen to your heart. It’s in that split second when the toss could go either way that a voice from somewhere inside of you tells you what you really want. It works.

    So, how do you make decisions? Will you try something new next time?