I was on the phone with a coaching client today (we’ll call her Dee) who was struggling with an embarrassment of riches: she has so many opportunities available to her – both personally and professionally – that she feels overwhelmed by the decisions she needs to make. Love her or envy her (no, “hate her” is not an option — I am VERY protective of my clients!), but chances are you know her – or you’ve been her. How do we decide what to take on and what to pass on?
I asked Dee to think about a decision she had made recently that felt like a “no-brainer”. Her example was taking her daughter on a college interview with the Dean of the school. Despite the fact that she had made the decision without an awareness of a decision-making process, I asked her to think about the factors that made this decision an easy yes. Here’s what she came up with:
- Unique opportunity
- Important/Makes an impact
- Aligns with her values
- Manageable cost(s)
- Potentially large payoff(s)
Look at that! Even without knowing that she had a set of decision-making criteria, she was using it. Then, we took this list and tested it against several other decisions she had made — and some that were pending. The criteria worked, and we realized that we had one to add to it:
That’s right. Dee often relied on an inner sense that yelled “yay” or “nay” to her when she had a choice to make. And interestingly, as soon as we named “gut” as a key decision-making factor for her, she reported that her stomach had been hurting her enough as of late that she had called the doctor. And while I am certainly an advocate for modern medicine, I do believe that our bodies give us powerfully useful information about what’s going on in our heads.
How about you? Think about a decision you have made recently that felt easy-breezy to you and see if you can back it up into a set of criteria you can use for future decisions that don’t feel as cut and dried.
And post your criteria here — I’d love to see how your head works!