I'm overwhelmed. How do I make tough decisions?
What do you do when faced with tough decisions? Many of us become paralyzed, worried that if we make the wrong decision terrible things will happen. Or maybe we become overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. But there are plenty of people who make huge decisions daily, decisions that shape everything from countries to companies. So how do they do it?
Turns out that decision making best works when you have a system to break down what your options are and anticipate any potential downsides. Here we’ll cover the six-step process Tony calls OOC/EMR — that stands for Outcomes, Options, Consequences / Evaluate, Mitigate, Resolve. Ready to start making tough decisions?
Before we get started, make sure to follow the first vital rule of making difficult decisions:
Write everything down on paper. If you attempt to do everything in your head, or even on a screen, your brain will end up looping over the same things. Instead of getting resolution, every possible idea will create more stress because you’ll just go back to your first thought. Putting everything on paper removes this pressure.
Phase 1: OOC – OUTCOMES, OPTIONS, CONSEQUENCES
1. Get clear on your outcomes.
What’s the result you’re after? Why do you want to achieve it? You must be clear about your outcome(s) and its/their order of importance to you. Without this clarity, tough decisions just become more difficult decisions. Remember, reasons come first; answers will come second. If you don’t know the reasons you’re doing something, you won’t follow through. Get as specific as possible here.
2. Know your options.
Write down all of your options, including those that initially may sound far fetched. Remember: One option is no choice. Two options is a dilemma. Three options is a choice. Write down ALL possible options whether or not you like them. The more options you have, the more confident you’ll be in your final decision.
3. Assess possible consequences
Now look at what you’ve got. What are the upsides and downsides of each option? What do you gain by each option? What would it cost you? Again, the more detail you can get here, the better equipped you’ll be for phase 2.
Phase 2: EMR – EVALUATE, MITIGATE, RESOLVE
4. Evaluate your options.
Review each of options upsides and downsides. As you think about the potential consequences, ask yourself these questions:
- What outcomes are affected if I take this option?
- How important (on a scale of 0-10) is each upside/downside in terms of meeting your outcomes?
- What is the probability (0-100%) that the upside/downside will occur?
- What is the emotional benefit or consequence if this option were to actually happen?
After jotting down these answers, you’ll probably be able to eliminate some options from your list. See, you’re already getting closer to the best solution.
5. Mitigate the damage.
For each of your remaining options, now review the downsides. Then brainstorm alternative ways to eliminate or reduce those downsides. Again, the more ideas you can come up with, no matter how far-fetched, the better prepared you’ll be to face that potential consequence.
Time for the big finish. Based on the most probable consequences, select the option that provides the greatest certainty that you will meet your desired outcomes and needs. This is your best option – and because you’ve looked at so many other possibilities, you know that to be true.
Resolve that, no matter what happens, this option will give you a win. Design your plan for implementation and then take massive action.
Remember, it’s better to make a tough decision and monitor to see if you need to shift your approach than to remain paralyzed in indecision. Find out more about the 4 rules to effective decision-making and say goodbye to being overwhelmed by making tough decisions.
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