Everyday we need to make multiple decisions – and some are more important than others. Coffee or tea? Stay on the road or take the next exit? Wear the black boots or red heels? Respond to an email now or wait until later? Should we make chicken or fish for dinner? Most likely none of these decisions will have earth-shattering consequences.
However, there are plenty of times when we need make a more meaningful and thoughtful decision about something especially complex and potentially life changing. Do I apply for the promotion or leave my job? Go to graduate school or take a sabbatical? Sell my business or start a new one? Buy a house or move to a new city? Answer yes or walk away forever?
In order to figure out what to do, there are many decision-making models, processes and risk/impact matrices available to help make both personal and professional decisions. Most people want to look at every angle of the situation, remove any emotional factors, and keep their decision as objective as possible. For example, a common approach is to use a Rational Decision-Making Model. This model presupposes that you are able to determine all of the options and future consequences of each alternative in order make your “one right decision.” Of course, many people can take this rational approach and then ultimately rely on their intuition or gut to make their decision.
Rational Decision-Making Model
Step 1: Identify the problem or opportunity
Step 2: Gather information and data
Step 3: Analyze the situation
Step 4: Develop the options
Step 5: Review and evaluate the options
Step 6: Select the best alternative
Step 7: Act upon decision
However, I have found that my clients only need to consider four simple questions when they are trying to make an important decision. These four questions (aka “Cartesian Questions”) can help you figure out which decision makes the most sense for you in order to move forward in the right direction.
Think about the most important decision you need to make right now.
Write down these four questions and fill in the blank with the decision you need to make. For example, “What would happen if you did sell your business?”
1. What would happen if you did ______?
2. What would happen if you did not _____?
3. What would not happen if you did _____?
4. What would not happen if you did not _____?
Next, write down the first thoughts you have in response to each question. Then review your answers and ask yourself:
- Are you being realistic in your assessment of the situation?
- What are your options and alternatives?
- What would happen if you did nothing?
- What would you gain or lose from this?
- What new perspectives or ideas do you have?
Working with someone, like a Coach, can help you reflect on your answers, think more deeply about what this decision means to you, and determine the best next step for you to take action and move forward with your decision. So, what decision do you need to make today?
About the author
Jennifer Malach is a Certified Executive & Career Coach with over 20 years experience in the professional services and software development industries including 17 years with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology, and outsourcing company. She has extensive experience in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, coaching, training and developing talent to promote their learning, retention and advancement. Jennifer has also led, managed, and mentored teams across North America.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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