A Time to Decide
Next to writing, reading is one of my favorite things to do. I am always finding new books to devour, and quite honestly I usually read too many at once. Right now one of the books I am reading is very pertinent to my current life situation so I thought I would share what I am learning!
The book is called Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath and it outlines a great process for making decisions. They have even created a handy mnemonic to help you remember the steps when you’re faced with a difficult choice.
- Widen your options
- Reality Test your Assumptions
- Attain Distance Before Deciding
- Prepare to be wrong
This acronym was created to work alongside creating a pros and cons list. Unfortunately a list of the good and bad things about each choice in your decision is not always the most functional so the mnemonic is meant to broaden your understanding of your decision. Processes are useful because “understanding our shortcomings is not enough to fix them” (pg. 7).
Step 1: Widen Your Options
When have you been faced with a decision like, “should I discontinue my relationship with my significant other or should I stay with him?”. Immediately you notice that you are limiting your options. What if instead of asking yourself if you should break up with your partner, consider whether or not you could work to find out if there are ways you could make the relationship better.
When we are thinking too narrowly, we squash questions like: “Is there a better way?”, “What else could we do?” (pg. 37). Even though we do not realize it, sometimes our options are more varied than we think. One of my favorite things to do when I have a problem is to brainstorm at least twenty solutions to my issue. If we did this for our decisions, I think we would definitely come up with more creative ways to make a choice.
It might be difficult to think of twenty different outcomes to your choice, but you probably get my drift. For example, in Decisive the authors reference a teenager and their thinking. The decision a normal teenager looks to answer is something like, “Should I go to Sarah’s party or not?”; obviously there are two answers here, no one disputes that. But what if the teenager took a step back and saw that they could actually attend the party after spending time at another friend’s home and then on the way back, stop by sonic and grab fries and a drink? Or maybe they go to the party for half the time and then study for the other half (lol jk Snapchat is better than parties and studying).
It is challenging for teens (and us) to think about another option because we have our spotlight on one thing, the party. When we avoid a narrow frame we can create a much more exciting canvas for our lives. Check out what is on the fringes of your spotlight and see what you can create! There is usually much more to our decisions than we think.. believe me, I wouldn’t know unless I had struggled down the path of indecision. Obviously I don’t have all of the answers, but I am working on my development and by reading this, you are too.. kinda?
Check back next week to read/hear me babble about the second item in the acronym,
“Reality Test Your Assumptions”.