A Simple 7-Step Process to Become Incredibly Good at Choosing
1: Know why decisions matter
Did you ever consider that the choices you have made in the past blocked you from reaching the success you truly deserve? World-renowned leadership expert John Maxwell argues that “choices, not abilities, are the greatest hindrances to our success.” In his opinion failure in life is not about what we can’t do, but about what we won’t do.
So let’s open our minds, roll up our sleeves and learn a process of choosing that will serve us well and give us high returns over a life-time.
2: Put the decision in the context of your life.
Great decisions are never made in a vacuum. On the contrary, they integrate a realistic big picture view on the status quo, a multitude of perspectives, structured evaluation and intelligent intuition.
Unless you know exactly what is going on, it is hard to make effective changes. Once you know where you stand it is much easier to make adjustments. So before evaluating the decision, lets first get a clear view of where you are in life right now.
A great way to do this is to look at the different domains of your life (health, family, work, finances, hobbies, …) and ask yourself where you are at on a scale of 1-10 in each area. Sometimes, while doing this audit, it becomes immediately clear that you have no resources left for that new opportunity at this very moment, because there are more important areas that you need to focus on. So what is your life like right now? What needs your immediate attention? Also look at how the decision would impact all areas of your life. If you do this, you will not walk into the deadly trap of making a decision outside the context of your real life.
3: Talk it through to get perspective.
This one is a big learning field for most of us. We need to share the thoughts with others in order to gain a richer perspective. Whenever you have a big decision, talk about it a lot with lots of different people. As a bonus, talk to people who are outside your usual community, you might get unexpected insight and perspective from that. By talking to other people you will not only get better perspective. Just listening to yourself talking will also help you to get a better feeling for your own true standpoint. Another benefit is that people will be able to support you in the future as they get to know your struggles and plans.
4: Use a framework for evaluating the decision.
If you can find a way to quantify your decision this will help to break down the complexity. This can be as simple as a plus and minus spreadsheet, or you could get really elaborate weighing different things. Whatever framework you choose, it will help you to get the perspective of an observer.
Make sure you evaluate these questions:
- What is it going to cost me? How much time, energy, resources, money and sanity is it going to cost me? How is it going to impact all the areas of my life?
- What is the payoff going to be?
- When is the payoff going to be? Short-term or long-term?
- Is the payoff really greater than the cost?
- Is there something else I could do that would cost me the same effort but return even more?
5: Check your intuition.
Our intuition is one of the most powerful parts of the decision-making process. Ask your intuition. How strong of a yes is this choice? Rate it on a scale from 1-10. If you do not score high here, it is not the right decision for you. If there is no clear signal, go through the previous steps again. You do not need to get to a 10, but you should get to a 7.
6: Decide and head into action.
If you have gone through this process, you have done enough. No matter if you feel ready or not, now is the time to make the decision. Also don’t wait for fear to go away. The only way to fight fear is action. Once you take the first step and get into motion you will see more. Don’t worry whether you will get it right. You can always adjust as you go.
7: Daily manage the decision you made.
Our choices are only as good as our ability to manage them day by day. Motivation gets us going, but discipline keeps us growing. As humans we are easily diverted, so we need to keep our decisions front and center. If we are able to keep our focus on our decisions and continually work on them, we will get big results over time. The best way is to daily review your progress and take time for a bigger review every week and to check your goals and life in depth every quarter.
“There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” John Maxwell