If you’re like me, you’ve done all the usual things around making decisions. You’ve talked to your friends. You’ve complained about the situation to coworkers. If you’re really under pressure, you might even have tried a list of pros and cons about the situation.
While there’s nothing wrong with any of that, I feel like it misses the most important part of the decision making process – considering what you really want.
Next time you find yourself procrastinating on a decision, try this instead:
- What is the problem? Tell me about the decision you need to make. Why is it a problem? The problem might be that you feel like you need to lose weight, but you aren’t sure what to do next. You know your joints hurt when you work all day. You notice you’re out of breath on the stairs. Your pants are also too tight, again. The point is that you already know what you don’t like about the problem you’re trying to solve.
2. Envision the end result that you want to have. If you answered the questions in step 1, you should have a really good feel for what you want to be different. Let’s paint a picture of the result you’d like to have. You feel good in your body. You can walk without pain. Your clothing fits and you feel confident in your own body.
3. What will it take to have that result? What will we have to say or do differently? What conversations will we have to have? Will we need to spend more money, time or energy? Break it down. In the weight loss example, it might be more water, more movement and maybe changing how you grocery shop. Maybe you need to invest in a gym membership. What are the steps to get you from here to what you envision?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road.
4. Are you willing to do what it takes to get the result that you want? Do you want in on a secret? It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say it’s not worth the work. It’s okay to say, “I’m not willing to do that in order to get the thing I want.” Not only is it okay, it’s absolutely critical that you tell yourself the truth – no matter what.
Let’s try another example.
- The problem: I don’t want to work weekends anymore. I’m afraid my boss will be angry with me and/or let me go.
2. What’s the end result I want? I want time with my husband when he’s not traveling for work.
3. What would it take to get there? I’m going to have to have a difficult conversation with my boss. I’m risking having someone be angry with me. I may lose my position, and I really like my job.
4. Am I willing to do what it takes? Yes. The time off is the priority, and I’m willing to risk losing the job (even though I love it).
The decision is made, now all I have to do is decide when I’m having that conversation.
Will that conversation be easy? I don’t know. What I do know is why it’s a problem, what I really want, and what it will take to get there. I also know what will happen if I don’t have the conversation (I’ll lose the time with my husband). I’m reminded that if I don’t decide, I have decided that I’m going to continue to work weekends.
Try this formula the next time you’re tempted to make a list of pros and cons and see how focussing on what you really want changes things.
“How Do You Like Your Eggs” is a book I wrote about harnessing your decision-making power. If you haven’t read it yet, make reading that book your very next decision. If you have read it, make the decision to book a call with me instead.