Every once a while, it is worth asking ourselves – how do I make a big decision?
To answer this, we need to ask 3 questions:
(1) How have we made big decisions in the past?
(2) What was the process when things worked well? And didn’t? (Process includes – how did we go about thinking about it? How did it feel?)
(3) What would our ideal process be?
It is worth taking the time to synthesize our approach because big decisions tend to have outsized consequences on our life. Deciding to change careers, go to graduate school, relocate, buy a home, etc., are all moves that have the potential to change every aspect of our life.
And, the crazy part is that there is no single correct decision in most of these cases. It all depends on the context.
Most importantly, the best decisions for you are those that work for you. So, it helps to understand how you can make a decision that is likely going to work for you.
For example, I know folks who only make such decisions when they feel the logic behind the decision is unassailable. I also know folks who only make such a decision when it “feels” right. For what it’s worth, I’m in the latter category.
Again, there’s no right answer. It all depends. However, once we understand our preferred process, it makes it easier to replicate when we make the next big decision.
I am often in conversations about career choices. And, while some ask the “Am I doing it right?” question explicitly, most ask it implicitly.
And, in every one of these conversations, I start with a variant of – “There’s no right answer.”
It is a helpful reminder in any conversation about careers (or life for that matter).
All we can do is ensure – a) we know what we want. b) we have as much information/awareness as possible on the situation and people involved. c) we are thoughtful about the likelihood of us getting what we want with the choice we’re making and what we will need to do to make it happen.
In the long run, thoughtful choices and good process lead to good outcomes. That’s about all we can focus on.
Having a strong set of values, core beliefs, or principles can be both a blessing and a curse when making decisions.
The clearer our values/stronger our core beliefs, the more options we will easily be able to eliminate. Arguably, we will be able to make decisions that are more predictive to our happiness.
On the flip side, we will also have far fewer options from which to choose from. In places where such options are few and far between, this can be painful. For example, we will have fewer career options we’re excited about and will probably take longer to hire that right candidate.
“It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”| John Steinbeck
Brad Stone kicked off his latest book – “Amazon Unbound” – with this quote. While brilliant in the context of the book, it is a quote that has kept finding its way back to my thoughts in that past day.