An important and powerful life skill is learning how to make smart decisions. You know, those decisions that take you positively forward toward your hopes, dreams and goals. Wise decision-making is a learned skill. I want to share three ways to learn and perfect those skills.
The choices you’re making today can, and probably will, have a lasting impact on the future. Even small everyday choices and decisions can produce huge results. Frederick Speakman said it best when he said, “Decisions determine destiny.”
When it comes to making smart decisions you have choices – you can decide to either be proactive or reactive. Proactive is when you weigh your options and then take the appropriate action. Reactive on the other hand means responding to a situation and often times leaving your fate to others.
Being reactive can take away your power – being proactive can give you the ability to think things through, weigh your options and make smart decisions. Being proactive also means making quality time to sift and sort through the possibilities and logically consider the probable outcomes and consequences.
Here are three methods to consider:
The Ben Franklin Method –
Ben Franklin made it a point not give advice but he did though share a method for helping others make wise decisions.
1. Draw a line from top to bottom of a sheet of clean paper so the paper is divided into two columns. At the top of the left column write Pros – at the top of the right column write Cons.
2. Think carefully about your situation and list all the pros (positives) and cons (negatives) for your potential choices. Be sure to take into consideration not only the logical but also the emotional aspects of your decision.
3. Weight all the pros and cons. Are there one or two from each side that have equal weight? If a pro has more impact upon you emotionally, spiritually or physically than let’s say two or three con’s, then cross out three con’s. Keep weighing and crossing out pro’s and con’s until you have a clear advantage one way or another.
List Your Options –
1. Take paper and pen or computer and list all your potential options for a situation. Potentially, there are many possible actions you can take for every situation. Just begin writing all the possible options for your situation – don’t analyze them, just write.
2. After you’ve filled a page with options, begin sorting through them and choosing the ones that could potentially work best for you. Next to your choices, write a logical / emotionally reason why this option seems feasible and could work.
3. Choose the option that you believe has the highest probability of success and is the one you feel most comfortable using.
4. Listen to your intuition. You’ll often get an instinctive “gut feeling” about the right thing to do.
1. Personally, this is one of my favorite decision-making methods. I get out a large pad of paper or a poster board and begin to draw out my options.
2. The “challenge” is in the middle of the page with lines leading to potential solutions. Usually I have 5-10 potential main solutions. Each potential solution is written in a different color.
3. Then, I take each main solution and draw 5-10 lines off them to make “sub-lines or sub-solutions” of the main solutions.
4. I find this opens my mind to the possibilities and also the pros and cons. I also enjoy looking at the visual representation of the solutions, especially when each potential solution is represented by a different color.
5. Now, analyze the benefits of each option. Look at the time, money, energy and effort for each one and also the payoff each one will produce. Which option is best for your situation?
What do you think? Are you ready to make smart decisions? You’ll want to remember the quote by Frederick Speakman, “Decisions determine destiny.”
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