Now that you’ve taken time to think, the next step is to make a decision.  We make decisions multiple times every single day.  What to eat, what to wear, who to call, wat time to leave, where to go, what to read, what to watch on t.v., what time to go to bed, etc.  That part of being a human is usually not too challenging, nor are the consequences dire.

Major decisions, however, require a different tool set.

The first tool is to identify the options.  Let’s say it’s time for a new car.  Should you buy it or lease it?  Should it be electric or hybrid? How much can you afford as a down payment?  How much can you afford to pay each month?  What will it cost to insure it? How long will you keep it?  What about the resale value?  These questions are what experts would call your selection criteria.   

Once you’ve figured out what’s important to you, the next tool you’ll need is a pro-con analysis as to each option, and the ensuing selection criteria.  Let’s do this old school.  Grab a pad of notebook paper (this is not the time for a post-it), and title it “Decision Time.”  Use a new page for each of the options you’ve identified, and then draw a vertical line down the middle.  Left side should be labeled “Pro” and right side should be labeled “Con.”  Now you’re ready to write down the advantages and disadvantages of buying or leasing the vehicle.  

You get the drill.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a person with expertise about the subject about which you’re deciding, an important tool is to brainstorm with the expert.  Make sure they know the purpose for your conversation and be respectful of their time.  Regardless of whether the brainstorming session ultimately proves to be helpful, make sure you show your appreciation.

As you’re getting closer and closer to making the decision, the next tool is to take some time to consider the consequences. Deciding to run a red light or speed on the freeway can have obvious consequences, like getting a ticket or causing an accident.  Deciding to drastically cut your hair can mess with your self-esteem.  Deciding to bypass chemotherapy can kill you.  And there are also decisions with happy consequences, like adopting a dog, volunteering for a non-profit, or taking a daily walk.  The trick here is to make your decision AFTER considering the consequences.  Otherwise, you may be dealing with a whole other set of challenges.

The last tool I’m going to suggest is to give yourself a deadline.  Whether it’s self-imposed or otherwise, having a deadline (at least for me) is a necessary step in the decision-making process.  Making sure that your timeline is fixed will help keep you on track and hopefully avoid the paralysis that we sometimes experience.

Do you have any major decisions looming?  I hope this proves helpful.  Keep me posted, ok?