The biggest obstacle to making a decision is the consequences of making it. It’s easier to make a decision if you can be certain of all the possibilities. The way to achieve that certainty is by evaluating the different pros and cons that come with that particular decision. Oftentimes, I have been paralyzed with the back-and-forth that goes with settling on a particular conclusion. To remedy that paralysis, here is a 20-question checklist.
When going through this checklist, it is probably best to write out your responses, just so you can review your answers in the future.
1. What are you currently trying to decide on?
Be specific. This checklist may be bulletproof, but it won’t organize your entire life.
2. What is the deadline for your decision?
Limit the time you need to make the decision so you don’t end up in decision limbo.
3. Who will provide input on this decision?
Who is influencing this decision? Better yet, who should be influencing this decision? For example, family, friends, and work colleagues. Do they have the expertise to aid in this decision?
4. What does your gut say?
Think of this as your intuition, the combination of subconscious memories, thoughts, and experiences that provide that primal urge.
5. How would you advise your friend in this position?
Step out of your own shoes. What would you notice for them, that you didn’t for yourself?
6. List all of your assumptions about this decision.
Assumptions can become blind-spots and lead you potentially wrong path.
7. Reverse each assumption. What is its opposite?
Reverse your thinking and define the opposite of each. How might that change things?
8. What is the opportunity cost of this decision?
Opportunity Cost is defined as “a profit, value, or benefit of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else.”
What would you be giving up by making this decision?
9. Who is most affected by your decision?
10. Can you test your decisions on a small scale?
For example: if you’re moving to a new city, trying visiting for a fortnight.
11. Who can you look to for advice?
You probably aren’t the first person having to make this decision. Who has the experience or expertise to help you talk this through?
12. What don’t you know?
Sometimes you can’t make a decision because there’s no way of knowing all the variables at work. What could you be missing?
13. Play devil’s advocate with yourself.
You could be looking at this with bias. To shake it off, try building a case against your decision.
14. What are the alternatives?
What have you already ruled out?
15. What long-term values are important to you?
How will this decision affect your life as it pertains to long-term values? Would you be willing to go against these?
16. What is the best possible outcome?
17.What is the worst possible outcome?
18. What is the most probable outcome?
19. Consider your future emotions as it relates to this decision (10/10/10 method)
How will you feel about this decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?
20. What is your final decision?
How confident are you in this decision, on a scale of 1 to 10?
(With 1 being not confident and 10 being completely confident.)
With this list of 20 questions, I am absolutely confident that decision-making will no longer be a source of anxiety or fear.
(Bonus: if you wrote your answers down, you can look back in six months and see how you did!)
ASPIRING ADULT will be on hiatus for the month of July 2019.