Some decisions are easy. What do you want on your hotdog? Ketchup or mustard. Some decisions are hard. Should I get marry to him (or her)? What’s even harder is finding a reliable method that teaches you how to make a decision that make the process easier and that results in the right choice. Luckily I have your back on this.
What follows is a decision-making process I developed that makes any decision easy.I designed it as I wrote my acclaimed book Quarter Life Crisis Escape Plan, which is a surefire 5 step solution to resolve a mid-life crisis style breakdown that people in the millennial generation is going through, as they navigate their 20s and 30s.
I’ve pulled it out of the book for you here, because it can be used by anyone considering anything in their life, no matter what age they are.
It also includes a printable PDF worksheet that is free to download.
I call this a “Neuro-cise”, because it is a thinking exercise. There are three Neuro-cises in the Quarter Life Crisis Escape Plan, by the way.
Ok, let’s get to the process of how to make a decision…and without any drama, upset or fear.
How to make an easy choice when you’ve got several options
You and I make thousands of conscious decisions each day. I bet if I asked you to look at many of the decisions you have made in the past, and the ones you make regularly, and evaluate them as an easy choice or a tough choice, you could do that effortlessly. Decisions that are easy are made quickly because we can instantly see there is a best option.
For instance, if you are a health-conscious person and I give you the choice between an apple or a doughnut, you’d likely choose an apple. You see it as the best choice.
But there are times where there is no clear best option. And sometimes you have to make those choices in situations where the stakes are high; where there’s a chance of major failure, or a potentially non-survivable risk.
Consider the popular reality show The Bachelor. It always gets pretty intense when the season’s candidate whittles his pack of ladies down to two, and has to pick who to spend his life with.
It’s fun to watch him lose sleep over it from your couch with a bowl of popcorn on your lap. And it’s never fun to go through these types of tough decisions yourself.
How to make a decision easily
Instead of looking at a choice as “good, better, best” versus “poor, bad, worst”, consider the quality of your choice without any morality. As in what is the right thing to do, versus what is the wrong thing to do. No choice is ever right or wrong. It’s just a choice.
And, scientifically speaking, no one choice is ever best. All choices have the same number of pros and cons depending on who is considering them.
Consider a choice between ketchup or mustard. One may seem better to you. However, no choice is better. They are on par. Which one is better is a subjective choice. You are always the qualifier.
The best option is the choice you say is the best. And that comes down to who? You! You will always choose the right option for you.
What is important here is that you learn this process to make a tough choice easy. Categorize the options of what you could do into the following:
- The SAFE choice
- The INSPIRED choice
- The SAFE/INSPIRED choice
Let me explain what I mean, again using a hotdog, as an example, so I can illustrate how this works.
Let’s say you always eat ketchup on your hotdog. It’s your favorite. Then one day your doctor says: “You need to stay away from ketchup because it’s been making you sick.”
Now, you have a sad decision. No more ketchup on your hotdogs. So, you decide to try a new condiment. What you have available is: mustard or relish.
The SAFE choice you may decide is mustard, because it’s statistically more popular than relish. It’s also often served with ketchup, so if you like ketchup, you might just as well like mustard.
The more adventurous or exciting option, the INSPIRED choice, is relish. It’s green and has a weird consistency compared to ketchup. Are you crazy and willing to go there?
So, what’s the SAFE/INSPIRED choice? Perhaps half of your hot dog gets mustard and the other half gets relish. A nice balance. A bit of safety and a bit of adventure.
It’s up to you to then decide what you are willing to risk. Do you feel like being crazy with your hotdog and diving full on into the relish? Or maybe it’s the last hotdog in your fridge and you are not willing to risk ruining your lunch. Either way, the decision is now a lot simpler.
As I said earlier, I have a free worksheet you can download, print and use to show you how to make a decision.
Instructions are below.
Neuro-cise: The Choice Sorter
The Intention of this Exercise
Make all your choices easy. The Choice Sorter allows you to separate all your options and grade them on a level of risk you are willing to take at this point in life to get the results you want.
This neuro-cise worksheet provides step by step instructions. Simply read the box titled Step 1 first and do what it instructs, then move on to Step 2, and so on till you reach the end.
For clarity, I’ve outlined the steps below and elaborated on them. Additionally, there is an example page that comes with the worksheet (in the PDF) that you can refer to for further guidance:
Step 1: Use a pain point that you want to resolve and need to make a decision about. First, consider what you think is the SAFEST option. Write that in the box labeled THE SAFE CHOICE.
Step 2: Ask yourself: What do I consider is at the opposite end of the spectrum to what I wrote in THE SAFE CHOICE box? Write your answer in the INSPIRED CHOICE box. What you write in this box should excited you but it might scare you a lot too. This is how you know it’s a more radical option.
Step 3: Now that you know what’s the safest and what’s the inspired choice, it’s easy to see what choice would strike a balance. Write that in THE SAFE/INSPIRED CHOICE box.
If you have more than three options you can write as many down as you can and sort them into SAFE, SAFE/INSPIRED and INSPIRED. Then go through the exercise again with each box grading each option against each other. After each run through pick the most likely options that you’d consider and distill them down the one you are confident and excited to take.
Once again, remember there is no best option. The best option is what you say is the best. You are the qualifier. So, pick the choice you’re confident and excited about.
Results of this Exercise
After using this exercise, you should have a clear view of what options are too inspired; what option you are seriously considering and what options are safe or too easy, and may not cause the outcome you want.
You should be able to walk away from this “How to Make a Decision” tool with one choice that will demand a clear set of actions and lay out a future for you. Most people will feel excited and nervous about the option they choose. Usually that is the right one. If you get to a final choice and you are not inspired, go back to the drawing board.
The worksheet can be downloaded for free as a PDF to help you to learn how to make a decision. Visit:
What to do if you’re still uncertain about making a decision
If you’re still unclear after doing this exercise I suggest you test drive your options by using your imagination. Play out the scenarios in your mind.
We humans have this awesome ability to close our eyes and project into the future, to experience different scenarios in our mind. This can help you gain clarity on what to do.
Here’s what’s cool about visualization (or daydreaming or imagining, whatever you prefer to call it): Your brain doesn’t know the difference. So, when you visualize what you want, you mentally try-on your future.
Close your eyes and think of a person that makes you happy and you’ll probably feel really good, you might even smile. Or, think of a sweet food you crave and I bet you can almost taste it. At a micro level, you salivate when you think about eating a delicious food.
Still not clear? Ask yourself this question: Is what I’m about to do, going to serve who I want to become?
Your answer will become clear.