Are you facing a difficult life decision and unsure what to do? We all have those moments of doubt and uncertainty, and that’s when a strategy or process for making good decisions can help.
Alex Honeysett is an author, marketing and brand strategist for entrepreneurs, and the creator of I Want to Promote My Business (but I have no idea where to start). She recently published a blog on The Muse that offers some practical advice for making good life decisions, like the following:
Weigh the pros and cons. Make a list of what’s good about the decision and what isn’t. Then decide which outweighs the other.
Listen to your gut. Find a place to get quiet and just sit and listen to what your inner voice is telling you about the decision. What thoughts or feelings come up?
Consider the impact on others. Every decision we make has an impact on the people in our lives. For example, suppose you decide to quit your well-paying job in order to start a business. How would that affect your spouse, partner, or children?
Check the alignment. How does the decision align with your passion, values, and priorities? If you’re not sure, you may need to refocus on what means the most to you in life and in your career.
Avoid negative drivers. Decisions are often driven by fear more than anything else. For example, the new job you’re considering doesn’t feel quite right, yet you may fear you will never get another opportunity like this again. What fears might be affecting your decision?
Seek advice. Share your thoughts with someone you know and trust. Sometimes the biggest help is simply hearing yourself talk out loud about what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking that way.
Compare the risks versus rewards. What’s the safest course of action? What’s the riskiest one? What could you do to minimize the risks and/or enhance the potential rewards?
Three Decision Criteria
And then there’s the Derek Sivers approach.
In addition to being a phenomenal developer and entrepreneur, Sivers has a remarkable ability to simplify complex issues such as making difficult life decisions. Whenever he comes to a fork in the road of life, he evaluates three basic criteria before making his decision:
What makes him happy
What’s smart (good for the long-term)
What’s useful to others
Sivers believes that most people instinctively think about these areas when making big decisions, but often end up making their decisions based on only one or two decision criteria. For him, the best decisions require a blend of all three.
So if you recently made a major decision and it doesn’t feel quite right, take a step back to see if it jibes with these criteria. If you’re about to make a big life decision, take the time to reflect on whether it will make you happy, feel smart, and be useful to others.
If you want to hear how others have approached similar decisions, sign up on Ideator and ask a question or start a conversation thread. Sometimes hearing the experience of others can be just what we need to make the right decisions for ourselves.