How I Make Big Life Decisions

If you’ve read my blog you understand I love self-help advice. Giving and receiving it. One of my favorite types of self-help advice is around decision making. For years I have used a tool to help make big life decisions and shared it with all my friends. Yesterday my girlfriend and I were on the phone and I was telling her about the decision matrix so she could make a career decision. “I’ll go read about it on your blog” she said. “Wow I don’t think I’ve written about it yet” I replied. So here it is.

I was taught about this simple tool by my dad when I was in middle school. As an extremely logical thinker, he was constantly exposing me to things like this. I’ve used a decision matrix to make decisions since high school. What high school job should I take? Where should I go to college? What internship should I take? Should I move cities?

At its core, a decision matrix weighs options and the factors you care about in making a choice. It gives a numerical score to your options so you have a clear quantitative answer. It is an alternative to using a Pro/Con list.

This is what a simple Excel version looks like (this is a very personal one from 2 years ago):

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 12.14.28 PM

The merits of using a decision matrix:

  • Forces you to consider what factors you really care about
  • Forces you to consider how much you care about those factors
  • Allows you to evaluate your choices numerically based on factors

Now you might think that once you have the score, you’re done. Quite the opposite. The most important part of this entire process is paying attention to the immediate feeling once you see the numbers calculate to give you a final score. Did the choice you think was going to win, win? Did an option you weren’t seriously considering rank higher than expected?

Grappling with the answers to these questions, and then going through the iterative process of re-ranking your factors or choice allocations, is the most telling answer you will receive while undertaking this exercise.

Comment / Email me if you’d like a further explanation of the template and go forth with your decision making!!

Also, check out http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_03.htm one of my favorite sites for things like this

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