There are times when all of us are faced with difficult decisions. It could be about a relationship, work, home, a hobby or, well, pretty much anything! For years I used the tried and tested method of listing out the pros and cons. As a lover of lists, I expected great things from this method. More often than not however, I was left feeling a bit disappointed. The process would typically involve me making the list of pros and cons for each option, only to often choose the option with more cons than pros. Worse still, there were many times where I spent so long trying to make the decision that it was ultimately made for me by someone else.
So I now take a new approach - a win-win approach! Let me explain what it involves and perhaps you too will find yourself ditching the pros and cons.
It starts with a decision to be made and couple of blank pages. You then right each of the options out on their own page, (allowing plenty of space for what is to come) and write down a date some time in the future. How far ahead into the future you go depends on the decision to be made, and whether you are looking at a short, medium or long term impact. Then you allow your imagination to guide you. Imagine that!
For each choice, imagine it is that day in the future and you are reflecting on how great things have worked out. Yes I mean that on every page, for every choice, you write a positive outcome. For example, let’s assume the decision is stay in your current job or move. You will write on one page how great it is that you decided to stay and all the good things that have happened. On the next page, you will write about what a journey it has been since you moved and everything you have learned. The key here is that there is no “wrong decision”. No matter what you decide, everything will work out just fine.
Having completed the exercise, it’s time to put the pages away for a little while so you can return to them with fresh eyes. And then it’s decision time. So now, knowing that whatever you choose it will work out well, which choice do you want more? Which choice is a better fit? Which choice meets your needs more? Taking a win-win approach allows you to explore all options from a positive perspective. For me, it also means I no longer feel guilty about the road not taken. I spend less time wondering “what if”. People have the wonderful ability to adapt to whatever course their life takes so as soon as the decision is made there is nothing left to do but live the choice you made. Sounds too good to be true? I’d love you to try it and let me know whether it works for you - or if you go back to the “reliable” pros and cons.
Niamh specialises in career and personal effectiveness coaching with a particular focus on career advancement and time management. You can contact Niamh here if you are considering a coach in these areas.