Decision making is easy isn’t it?

1. Clarify decision to be made
2. Identify options
3. List criteria linked to decision
4. Evaluation options against criteria
5. Make decision.

Easy? Yes or no?

Sometimes this approach to decision making process has worked really well for me. Recognising that there are a number of criteria involved in the decision (and that each criteria is weighted differently) has made some decisions FAR more straightforward. I remember trying to decide which house to buy. I really couldn’t decide between three of four favourites. My thinking was going round and round in circles; one minute I favoured one, the next minute I favoured another. It was only by listing the important criteria involved in the house purchase decision (in this case, price, location, number of bedrooms, room for home office, proximity to school etc.) and then allocating each criteria an importance weighting, that I could score each house and the eventual winner emerged. Well in fact, what happened was that two came out as ahead of the others. I ended up buying number two on the list, because whilst taking a very objective look at which house served my family’s needs best very nearly sorted the decision out for me, I discovered that I also needed to take account of my FEELINGS…you know, the sort of feelings you get about a place when you walk in for the first time?

I have also resorted to using criteria and weighting when deciding which holiday to book for the family summer vacation. Comparing one with another can end up with me going round in circles, first favouring one, then another, often being subjectively influenced by the quality of photos, the blueness of the swimming pool, the ease of getting a price from the owner, rather than really evaluating what is most important in my decision making.

Some decisions, however, I find almost impossible to be this objective about. There have been decisions recently which don’t relate to objective criteria at all and which I have had to resort to gut feel to guide me. When I am in this sort of decision making quandary there are some tell tale signs; I put off the decision, I don’t like talking about the decision, I labour over the impact of the decision playing different outcomes over and over in my mind. I think we probably all face decisions like this sometimes don’t we?

When I am in one of these phases he only way that I find to make a decision is to focus fully on what is important to me right now, in six months’ time and beyond. My reluctance to decide can be due to a fear of letting someone else down and this can cloud my clarity over what is right for me. This might sound like a selfish statement to anyone who faithfully spoke their Brownie Guide Law 40 years ago and promised ‘to think of others before herself’!

Recognising and acknowledging what matters most to oneself is, for me, the step towards decision clarity. It means I can start to unravel the way ahead, and then take steps to resolve the quandary whilst also protecting the well being of others involved in the decision. Not having this clarity produces decisions that aren’t well founded, congruent or like to deliver long-lasting satisfaction.

If you have a decision to make and you aren’t sure what to do, first try to establish the important criteria involved in that decision (the criteria will be part of how you make your decision, think about my house buying example), see if you can score your options and look with fresh eyes at the option that emerges as the winner. Then take time to focus on what is most important to you at the moment in your life and consider your decision in relation to that. How does your winning option sit alongside other important aspects of your life? Does your winning option give you what you really want now, and in the future? How does your decision link with what you are trying to achieve overall?

If you have any techniques that you use to make decisions, do comment below…I would love to know your thoughts.