The Decision Process
This process can be applied to any situation where you need to make an important decision. If you follow these ten basic steps, you will find yourself making wiser decisions in your professional as well as your personal life.
1. Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made. Is this really your decision or someone else’s? Do you really need to make a decision? (If you do not have at least two options, there is no decision to be made.) When does the decision need to be made? Why is this decision important to you? Who will be affected by this decision? What values does this decision involve for you?
2. Write down as many alternatives as you can think of. Brainstorm as many different alternatives as you can imagine. Let your imagination run free and try not to censure anything; this is not the time to be judgmental. Just be sure to write everything down.
3. Think where you could find more information about possible alternatives. If you only come up with a few alternatives, you may want to get more information. Additional information generally leads to more alternatives. Places where you can look for the information you need include friends, family, clergy, co-workers, state and federal agencies, professional organizations, online services, newspapers, magazines, books, and so on.
4. Check out your alternatives. Once you have a list of alternatives, use the same sources of information to find out more about the specifics of each option. You will find that the more information you gather, the more ideas will pop into your head. Be sure to write these down and check them out too.
5. Sort through all of your alternatives. Now that you have your list of alternatives, it is time to begin evaluating them to see which one works for you. First, write down the values that would come into play for each alternative. Second, look for the alternatives that would allow you to use the greatest number of your values. Third, cross the alternatives off the list that do not fit into your personal value framework.
6. Visualize the outcomes of each alternative. For each remaining alternative on your list, picture what the outcome of that alternative will look like. Here, too, it helps if you write out your impressions.
7. Do a reality check. Which of your remaining alternatives are most likely to happen? Cross off those alternatives that most likely will not happen to you.
8. Which alternative fits you? Review your remaining alternatives and decide which ones feel most comfortable to you. These are your wise decisions. If you are very happy about a decision, but are not as comfortable with its possible outcome, this is a clue that this is not a wise decision for you. On the other hand, you may dislike an alternative, but be very excited about the possible outcome. This decision would probably not be wise for you either. If you feel you can live with both the alternative as well as the possible outcome, this is the wise decision you should follow.
9. Get started! Once you have made your decision, get moving on it. Worrying or second-guessing yourself will only cause grief. You have done your very best for the present; you always have the option of changing your mind in the future. Remember, no decision is set in stone.
10. How is it going? Be sure to review your decision at specified points along the road. Are the outcomes what you expected? Are you happy with the outcomes? Do you want to let the decision stand or would you like to make some adjustments? If the decision did not come out the way you planned, go through the complete decision-making process again. In the process, answer the following questions: Did I not have enough information? What values actually came into play? Were they my values or someone else’s?
Remember, you can always change your mind. Entrepreneurs know they can choose again.
I’m a retired SBDC counselor, who knows where to look stuff up — both online and IRL. In this case my source is a SBA publications. For individual business support with any aspect of your business contact the nearest SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Center.
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