6 mins read
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you yourself ” —John C. Maxwell
I have worked with countless smart people both at work and in my other endeavours and one huge worry that never ceases to amaze me is how indecisive people get in taking a position on matters of critical importance.
Some would simply freeze out, others become evasive, some resort to trickery while some just stalls and wait for the situation to sort itself out. Many will delay decision making for many weeks until it becomes too late to remedy the situation, while others would be too terrified to make a decision for the fear of the unknown.
Decisions about changing jobs, buying a house, selling a car, getting married, relocating, furthering education, having another child are just as important as choosing a piece of tie to wear to work. While these are life changing decisions requiring careful thought, situation analysis, efforts and even planning, you must justify decisions taken notwithstanding.
Many times I have been privileged to speak with lots of young people who are stuck and struggling to make a decision that could easily be life changing for which only years to come will prove to be the better choice. I have also enjoyed doing the mental work and allowing those I speak with to eventually see the light to make the decision themselves. This relative success is behind the need to share a bit of my insight into decision making.
Before we delve into the depths of this concept, permit me to share this very simple ideology.
“In making any decision no matter how important, there are only two distinct positions, “Yes” or “No”. There are no middle grounds. No grey areas. No soft landing. Whatever is not right or acceptable or suitable or correct in any context is wrong, unacceptable, rejectable etc.”
As a starting point, stick with the above statement.
Please allow me take you through the decision making process that is guaranteed to make you nimble in taking a position at any time.
1, Define the value system that would guide your decision making.
Ask yourself “what is important to me about my life, about this situation, about this project?”
Have you ever defined what your value system is? Are your actions guided by a set of values?
Take for instance, that I have as a personal value to always be punctual for meetings and scheduled meet-ups, then I would always make plans that would allow me to arrive early for these meet-up despite traffic bottlenecks or other unplanned nuances. In essence our behaviour is driven by the values we set for ourselves. Therefore decisions that would be inimical to our value would be avoided at all cost in order to be consistent in one’s behavior.
So take an introspective look at yourself and clearly define your own set of values. That for which you want to be known for. There are hundreds of values – things that are important to you, write them down and decide which you would like to deliberately exude. This is perhaps the most important part of this process.
A clearly defined personal values will guide your decision-making process because it would provide a clear direction and the light to your path.
It is important that you decide on at least 3 top values you want to live by or be known for. These are the values you probably live by without even realising it. Those values epitomizes your best moments. While it might be difficult to admit what your top three values might be, understanding yourself and your motivation will come handy for the rest of your life.
2, Measure your decision against your top 3 values
Here is a test of alignment with your value system. How does your probable options align with your key personal values. Please refer to the statement above for taking a position. It’s either a YES or a NO. No middle ground, no grey spots.
Once you have your top three values listed and have answered the question, you will have a decision making tool that is right on point for you, no matter how difficult that decision may be.
If you have a NO in the #1 value position, something has to change as the situation is unsustainable. If you have a YES in your #1 value position and NO in others, you may be able to adjust your situation. But if you have an ALL “NO” answers or an ALL “YES” to the questions then the decision is obvious.
Let’s test this;
A friend is keen on his career and to further his career and to be in a position to take on opportunities at work,he opts to further his studies. Then he goes in for a part-time masters degree at a near-by university. He is also engaged to the love of his life and poised to tie the knot pretty soon. He lives with his parents and need cash to settle down quickly.
A job opportunity opens up in his office in Abuja and would require that he relocates. This would imply that he may have to abandon his masters degree and even consider postponing his plans to settle down. The job opportunity offers a much better pay and would come with perks and other allowances for his inconvenience.
He is wondering if he should perhaps complete his masters degree that is in its second semester of four and turn down the offer. Or take the offer and jettison his masters degree.
What are his personal value system or “what are the things important to him?”
He says he wants to settle down, he wants to further his career and believes with an additional post graduate degree he is well poised for this.
What do you advise?
Which decision will align with the things that are important to him? How do we measure this?
Is it important that he gets married soon? He may answer that there is pressure on his fiance and being a gentleman that he is, he made a commitment to complete the marital rites within the next few months and he sure needs more cash to make that happen.
He admits that getting married is important to him.
Next question – Is getting an additional degree important to him? He says yes! He would like to have his masters degree so he can be competitive in the industry. Would the opportunity come again elsewhere, sometime? Yes. Leaving the current masters course for Abuja may be considered a waste, but in this context, it can be traded off for an advancement in career and perhaps even more money.
So what is important to him? That is the most pertinent question and how does it align with his personal value.
Relocating brings some perks and yes he can easily settle down with his wife after tying the knot. And he can commence yet another masters degree in ABUJA.
This is a hypothetical example to help with making decisions.
How about choosing a tie? To make that choice, you probably have to consider the style,color and pattern. So how does this help with making a decision?
What are the important things or value system to align with?
Are you keen on drawing attention to yourself? Or perhaps you are hoping appear elegant and super confident. Are you hoping to look chic and youthful or mature and bold? Your decision must be guided by preset values. Those values must personify you and be consistent with your behavior.
In organizations, this may become a little interesting. Business decisions must be in alignment with the strategic objective of the organization and must be executed in line with the core values of the organization. This however is a conversation for another day!
I have made this look pretty simple, but as you practise these two steps, you will become more accustomed to how these work and improve on your decision making without flinching.
Hit me up if you need more insights. It’s free!! lol