Sometimes we have to make important decisions where the ‘right’ answer is unclear. I would like to suggest this process for making for those tricker decisions:
1. Which of your values are relevant in this situation?
2. What are the key facts? In this step aim to see the world the way it really is rather than as your mind tells you it is.
3. What is the relationship between the facts – how do they interact?
4. Focus in depth on different parts of the problem (whilst keeping the whole in mind). Take different perspectives – how would others view this problem? How will you view this problem in 5 years time?
5. Consider that there may be a better alternative that you haven’t thought of. Ask for advice. Do some research. Brainstorm. Consider trialling different options and observing how they turn out.
6. Be prepared to sit either with the discomfort of not deciding or with the discomfort of deciding and possibly making the wrong decision. See if it possible to have those difficult thoughts and feelings without them pushing you around.
7. Make a decision and then check it against your values – is this a move towards what you want your life to be about?
6. Observe the outcome and be prepared to make incremental adjustments. Again, work to see the world as it really is – rather than how your mind tells you it is.
This process draws on Roger Martin’s work on Integrative Thinking
Rob wrote a great post on the costs of making decisions without any connection to values.