Step 1 of Decision Making: Make a List of Your Options
What is the hardest part of making a decision? Certainly it can't be making a list of your options are, right?
Consider the following:
You receive a job offer from a big company. The first question you ask yourself is whether or not you should take this job. By doing this you immediately pigeon holed yourself into thinking you only have two options. One is to take the job and the other is to not take the job.
When faced with a decision, it is very easy to think in binary terms. Most of the time we tend to think in terms of "EITHER" "OR". What do I mean by this? Do the following questions sound familiar?
a) Should I break up with my partner or not?
b) Should I buy a new car or not?
c) Should I quit my job at my current company or not?
In actuality you might have more choices than you think. Along with the aforementioned questions, consider the following:
a) What if my partner and I were to take a break & reevaluate later?
b) Is there the possibility of purchasing a used car or leasing a car?
c) Are there ways I can move within the company into a different role?
The first rule of decision making is to keep an open mind. If you do that, you may find yourself with more options than you were initially led to believe.
How Do I Determine My Options?
1) Consider the opportunity costs
In other words, consider what you would be giving up by making one of your choices. For instance, you could be spending the time or money elsewhere.
For example, suppose you are trying to decide between a $500 plain laptop or a $1000 fully-loaded laptop. If you go with the fully-loaded laptop you will have $500 less to purchase games.
2) Take away all your existing options
Suppose you didn't have any of the options you've considered. What else would you be able to do? This helps you think of other options that you hadn't thought of before.
For example, if you had focused on only whether or not you should quit your job; you left out the possibility of staying with the company and moving around within.
3) Keep the number of choices within reason
Try and narrow your choices down to three or four. Studies have shown that having more than two choices helps you make better choices, but having too many choices can do the opposite.
For example, if you have 24 choices, you might be flip flopping between all the choices and get overwhelmed.
As always, when life presents you with a choice of "this or that", consider whether the right choice might be "both". It's a common misconception to think you can't have your cake and eat it too. In some cases, you actually can.