How to Make a Difficult Decision

There’s no denying that some decisions are easier than others, and some people have more trouble making decisions than others.  If you have to make a choice and you’re stuck, here’s a process I like to use:

Its Your Decision

  • Define the situation in concrete terms: As if you are telling a story, write out the particulars.  What do you have to make a decision about, and what led up to this point?   Who are the people involved?  What is the deadline for making the decision?
  • Generate as many alternatives as you can: Write down everything that comes to mind, and then look at your list carefully.  Are any of your options totally unrealistic?  If so, cross these off.
  • Evaluate each choice: List the positive and negative consequences – or pros and cons – associated with each option. When considering pros and cons, think about your most important personal values (i.e. how will you feel about yourself if you take a certain action?), and how the decision will affect your life and the people in it.
  • Select and implement the best alternative: Create an action plan in which you marshal the appropriate resources and set a timeline in motion.  Communicate your decision clearly to the people involved.
  • Assess the outcome: If your decision turns out to be the right one, think about what worked and why.  If you were wrong, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just chalk it up to a learning experience and try a different approach next time.

What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever made at work, and how did it turn out?

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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