I work a stressful job for the industry I’m in. It’s not brain surgery, active military duty or coal mining however it is fast-paced, active and I have to think on my toes and dance every day. I love my job and it’s the best role I have had in the 9 years I have worked for this company.
In the past year I learned a lot at my job due to the nature of where it was and just needing to figure things out. One of the biggest skills I developed from this was decision making. Part of the ability to make a good decision is about understanding what the end game is. Either the end game someone else has in mind or the end game you want to forge on your own. If you know the end then you can decide if the decision you are about to make will get you closer or further towards the end game or goal.
Before I make any decision or take any action I ask myself the following question: “What is the value?” A pretty simple question but it has a big impact. I ask this before I send an e-mail at work, before I buy a coffee and before I make a purchase of any kind.
What’s the Value:
Asking myself what the value of an intended action makes me need to answer another 3 questions.
- What do I want to get out of this?
- What are the consequences of my actions?
- I am I still okay to make the decision?
Asking these 3 questions allow me to figure out what my decision should be.
What do I want to get out of this?
The first question is easy. If it’s a coffee on Saturday morning before errands is basically a little pick me up while I spend 4 hours running around. (It’s the simple pleasures). If it’s sending an e-mail at work it could be to inform someone of something. If it’s a purchase it’s usually to get something for some reason.
What are the consequences of my actions?
The second question is where the wheels get turning. What are the consequences of my actions? If I get that coffee do I have money for it, will I be tired later after the caffeine crash happens or will there be a line and delay me from doing stuff and will that be okay? When I need to answer a work e-mail I could be dealing with people who are more pissed off by what I’m saying, bring someone up to speed so that they can help me or simply just sending an e-mail for the sake of sending an e-mail. If it’s a purchase the thought process is I’ll have less money or need to find space for this thing I’m buying or there is a huge benefit to having this thing in my life.
When you make a decision you are basically trying to forecast the future. This question is trying to work through all the possible outcomes of your decision, good and bad. The word “consequence” is usually a negative one however the standard definition is just the outcome of actions. Try to think about it that way. What will happen after I do this thing? That will help you work out all of the difference scenarios of your intended action.
I am I still okay to make the decision?
The third question pulls it all together. Do I still want to move forward with the decision now that I think I know what the outcome will be? This is an easy one. If the answer is honestly no, then you don’t do it. If the answer is honestly yes, then you can make the decision knowing you worked out things beforehand.
Sometimes things don’t work out the way you thought they were going to. That’s okay. I know it’s making a mistake however making a mistake just builds your tool box for the next time. If you thought something was going to go a certain way and it doesn’t maybe it was information you were missing. Maybe someone else acted in a way you didn’t anticipate. That’s okay – you know for next time. You can take this information and when you need to make a decision again you have more scenarios to work out in your head and more to think about which will ultimately make you a better decision maker.
We aren’t born learning how to make decisions, thinking about pros and cons or understanding how to value our time and money. This is something that comes with experience. And you only gain experience by falling down and getting back up again.
What are some of the ways you help yourself make better decisions? I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.
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