Pro and Con Lists

Pro and Con Lists

Take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

Try to give your list a sense of scale. This can help you think through all the positives and negatives of all your options, and help you visualize the generally best candidate.

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Problem Solving

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During the decision-making process, you're going to make assumptions. Tinker with those assumptions in order to get a fuller, more objective view of the situation. 

For example, you might assume that your company is going to continue growing in revenue, but what if your sales decrease over the next two years? How would your decision play out?

To help you visualize the generally best candidate, take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

Your Biases

Our decisions stop being objective when our emotions and biases begin to interfere with our evaluations. In order to reduce this impact, think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision. 

What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Create a Scoring System

Assign positive or negative points to each quality associated with each of your decisions, and keep a total score running for each one. 

Once you've taken everything into consideration, one decision will be objectively worth more than the other. 

An outsider's perspective

Imagining your own advice if you were counseling a friend on making the decision can help you understand what an outsider's perspective might be. 

Because you're in the middle of a situation, your views are distorted, but on the outside, you might see things differently.

Strip down your deciding factors

Try to limit what you have to interpret. Eliminate any factor that isn't one of your primary considerations, and look at what remains.

For example, if you're deciding between two new jobs, you could pare the decision down to salary, work culture, and potential for growth. 

Think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision: How much and how well do you know the other people involved with the decision? What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Scoring Systems

Assign positive or negative points to each quality associated with each of your decisions, and keep a total score running for each one. 

Once you've taken everything into consideration, one decision will be objectively worth more than the other. You'll still be affected by your subjective opinions, but they will have a smaller impact.

Make a decision and hold firm to that decision. You can deal with any consequences of that decision as they arise later. In most cases, making a bad decision is still a lot better than making no decision at all.

Instead of trying to think of everything that could possibly be accounted for when making the decision, strip down the deciding factors to a minimal number.

For example, if you're deciding between two new jobs, you could pare the decision down to salary, work culture, and potential for growth. Eliminate any factor that isn't one of your primary considerations, and look at what remains.

The outsider's perspective

Imagine your friend telling you the problem using only the most important information, and think about what you might say in return.

Imaging your own advice if you were counseling a friend on making the decision can help you understand what an outsider's perspective might be. 

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RELATED IDEAS

The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. 

State your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity and avoid unwarranted assumptions and option-limiting prejudices.

Making Smart Choices: 8 Keys to Making Effective Decisions

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Most decision-making errors boil down to:

  • logical fallacies (over-generalizations, comparing apples and oranges, circular thinking)
  • limiting beliefs (underestimations of what's possible)
  • judgment biases (valuing certain factors above others).

4 Common Decision-Making Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

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  1. Book time to think: It’s counterintuitive, but making decisions faster requires consciously giving yourself time to make them.
  2. Define the decision: Before delving into deciding, get clear on the nature of the choice you’re making.
  3. Think through your options: Instead of limiting yourself to a “yes” or “no” choice, brainstorm all the possible options before making a decision.

5 ways to make tough decisions faster (and not regret them later)

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