How do you make decisions? Big, or at least important decisions should be made using some sort of system. But few people actually do more than think about the pros and cons of a big decision in order to make their decision. That’s not good enough. Through the next few articles, I’m going to teach you how to make excellent decisions!
When faced with a tough decision, especially an important one or one that will have a big effect on their lives, most people make those decisions in a pretty simplistic way. They usually make a list of pros and cons (whether written or just in their heads), and they probably talk to their friend, spouse, or family member about it to see what they think too. And then they make their decision, but aren’t usually very confident that it was the right decision.
Or sometimes people are simply too afraid of making the wrong decision, so they choose not to decide at all (which is itself a decision actually), and the situation usually doesn’t go well but at least they can hold onto the false belief that it’s not their fault since it wasn’t their decision that made it turn out badly.
But that’s not what people who live lives of excellence do. Instead, they carefully evaluate the different possible options and use a strategy to make the best possible decision they can. They also make a list of pros and cons for the immediately apparent options, and ask the advice of their spouse, friend or family member. But that’s just the beginning.
The next step in making excellent decisions is to realize that you are most likely looking at the decision to be made with a narrow frame. What that means is that if you have a decision where there are two obvious options, those are the only options you consider. That’s a narrow frame. In reality, there are probably plenty other options that you just haven’t considered yet because you haven’t stepped back far enough to look at the big picture.
For instance, let’s say that your laptop stops working. You need a laptop (or at least you really want one), but you only have $500 in your savings account. Since you think that you need a computer, you start shopping around at different stores to see what laptops are available that are within your budget. You find a few that you like, list the pros and cons of each one, ask friends and family what their opinions are maybe, check out the reviews for each of those models, and then make a decision on which one you think would be the best one to buy, and you go buy it. You end up choosing one that’s got the fastest processor for laptops around the $500 price range, has the most memory of the ones you could find, the best screen, and good speakers. And it was on sale so you saved $100! The only thing you had to give up over the next best choice was a back-lit keyboard, a longer battery life, and a couple extra USB ports. So that was a pretty good choice right?
Not really. The first problem here is that your frame was too narrow. You saw that you only had $500 in your savings account so you immediately narrowed your list of options to computers that were less than $500. But why should that be the case? You could have considered that there are many stores that will allow you to purchase a computer and finance it. Maybe you could have opened a store credit card and bought a $900 computer that had everything you wanted using the new credit card, and then used the money you would normally put into your savings to pay the credit card off faster over the next few weeks. Plus, when you open a new credit card at most electronics stores, you get an automatic 10% discount so you would have been able to take advantage of that as well.
Or maybe you don’t even need a laptop since you never bring it anywhere anyway, so you could have bought a desktop computer instead. Desktops are cheaper than laptops generally, and you can almost always get a faster, better desktop computer for the same price or less than you would spend on a similar laptop.
Or maybe you did take your laptop with you on a regular basis when you left home, so maybe a tablet computer would have been even more convenient and a better option for you.
Or maybe you could borrow a friend’s extra computer or just go to the library and used one of their computers while you waited to get your tax refund back or saved up more money until you had enough to buy the laptop you really wanted.
It could be that the computer you ended up buying on sale for $500 was a good option – but was it the best option? How can you know unless you widened your frame and considered other options as well?
If you want to make excellent decisions rather than just good ones, make sure you aren’t looking at the decision through a narrow frame.
Now get out there and LEED!