When you’re trying to make an important decision, selecting the best option can be confusing and even overwhelming. What seems to be best for someone else might not be what is best for you. So you can ask for, and receive advice from friends, family members, or other trusted sources and still want to weigh your options.
Even if someone – or several “someones” – give you advice, their words of wisdom will come from – and be affected by -their own perspective. How can you get better at making your own wise choices?
An important aspect of weighing your options when solving a challenge is to identify the future consequences of each choice.
Review these steps to help you confidently compare consequences when evaluating options for decisions:
1. Write down your choices. Leave room near each option to consider its consequences. Be optimistic that you’ll make comparisons wisely.
2. Allow yourself plenty of time to consider the situation. What would you ideally like to do? What comes to mind first? How many options can you come up with, and which option (or options) are you most comfortable with?
3. Consider each option (if there are multiple) one by one. Think, “What will happen if I __(fill in a choice)__?” Thoroughly consider future implications and the ramifications for each choice. Write down possible outcomes on your list, and examine each option closely so that you’ll be ready for the results that could arise.
* Trying to determine any real consequences for an option enables you to narrow your field of options. Keep in mind you may be unable to predict every consequence in advance.
4. Think about your mindset before the dilemma arose. How were you feeling about your life, your career or business, finances, relationships, or whatever applies? Mostly satisfied? Somewhat disappointed in a couple of areas? Hoping for a change of some kind?
* It matters because if you were perfectly satisfied, maybe you wish to avoid making any changes now.
* However, if things were less than satisfactory, you may seek to change your life’s path.
5. Which consequences appeal (or repel) the most? After you’ve determined consequences for each option, you’ll likely discover the consequences you find the most positive.
* Illustrative Example: You’ve worked for Company A for 12 years. Yesterday, your boss offered you a new position requiring you to transfer 120 miles away to a satellite office. You’ll receive a small raise (3%) and be required to work one evening per week at the office. What will you do?
o Option #1: Decline the offer.
o Option #2: Accept the offer and commute to work.
o Option #3: Accept the offer and move to the new town.
* Possible Consequences for Option #1 (Decline the offer):
o Everything in your life will remain the same.
o You’ll receive no raise, remain in your home, and continue to spend time socially with your current friends and family located close by.
o Career-wise, you’ll stay at the same position. Your spouse won’t have to quit their job and your kids won’t have to switch schools.
* Possible Consequences for Option #2 (Accept & Commute):
o You’ll have a bit more money with the new job. However, that money will likely be offset by the cost of your commute in terms of gas and service on your car.
o Your free time and social life will be decreased due to the 4-hour daily commute.
o You wonder if you could work from home 1 or 2 days a week to ease the commute.
o You’re comfortable with working one evening a week.
o Your spouse will be responsible for most parenting tasks during weekday evenings due to your absence and you’ll see less of the kids.
o You won’t have to move.
* Possible Consequences for Option #3 (Accept & Relocate):
o You’re fine with selling your home because you believe you’ll come out ahead financially.
o You haven’t had kids yet and your spouse isn’t working now. The time seems right for a move.
o You’re ready for a raise and excited about assuming a new position. Although you’ll miss your social network, you know your closest friends will drive the two hours occasionally to visit on weekends.
o You have two relatives that live within 25 miles of the town you’ll relocate to.
6. Decision-time. Select the option that holds the most positive consequences for you and your family. Be optimistic about your choice and embrace it as it should lead you toward your goals.
Make your next decision with confidence by applying these steps. Discover the power you have in your life by comparing consequences to make wise decisions.