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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Decision making tools and ideas

Or, How To Make Life Choices

To move to a new house or not to move? To pursue an existing career path - or to explore a career change? To apply to a certain job or not? To change son's school or not to change? To leave a job or to wait for a miracle to happen? To accept an opportunity or to find another one? To fight or to move on? To study again - and if yes, which stream? To give an idea a go or to keep things at bay?

These are some of the questions and decisions that I've been facing over the last month or so. In some situations, the decisions were made for me. In others, I had to agonise over the choices.

Decision-making is never easy. Especially if the choices have life-altering consequences. Choosing what to eat for dinner may be a challenge on some evenings. But, it certainly can't compare to say choosing where to send your child to school - or how to go about a career change.

Since I had to face a few significant decisions lately, I had to use more than just my whim to make my choices. Here are some of the things that I've been doing and using to weigh my options:

1. Talk, talk, talk. My initial instinct when it comes to decision-making is to internalise. Just think things through. This time, however, I made a conscious effort to reach out to people. To seek advise and to ask for guidance. And, I found that at this stage of my life, being able to talk through my thought processes had been really helpful for me.

2. Use various decision-making tools and strategies. One decision making tool that I've recently tried is MindTools' Decision Making Tools and Techniques resource. It employs strategies like Starbursting, PMI, Grid Analysis, and Stepladder Technique among other things. Even when I thought I'd know the answer before I started the process, I often end up surprised when I use the tools.

3. Journal writing. As I said earlier, I tend to internalise. I like thinking through things by writing them down. As in, using good old fashioned pen and notebook. And, as always, I find that my journal is a really great tool to have during decision-making. Not only does it help me to clarify my thoughts, it also helps me to record my process.

4. Taking surveys and tests. Other than the Q&As and surveys I responded to using books like What Next?, I also revisited some favourite tools like the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Understanding oneself better, I believe, helps a lot when it comes to making decisions.

5. Read and research. To make informed choices, it's good to make use of the wisdom and experience of different people. So, I've been reading a lot... doing a lot of research on various aspects of things that I'm interested in. For example, when making a choice about studying again, I looked at various options that I have. I read books on the subject, researched various universities and schools, looked at classified ads for various careers, and created Google alerts on topics of interest. It seems like a lot, but I found it all quite useful.

6. Coaching service. I found that getting some external input when it comes to understanding certain aspects of my decision making and goal setting really helped a lot. So, I carefully considered hiring a counsellor or a coach this time around. After some consideration, I decided to sign up for a coaching programme and it really helped me to get on track about a few things at the moment.

7. Prayer. Admittedly, praying has become something that doesn't come as naturally as I'd like it to. But, I'm grateful that I'm now remembering why it is something that I want to happen in my life more and more again.

8. Gut instinct. Even through all the logical, rational ways that I use to make decisions, I find that learning to listen to my own gut more is still a very valid way to find the right path. When something's amiss, your gut will tell you. When something's absolutely right, your instincts will let you know too.

What about you? How do you go about making decisions in your life? How do you weigh options and make choices? Do you have any favourite decision-making tools and techniques?

Image source: svilen mushkatov (via sxc.hu)

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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