How to make the best (hard) decision

Photo courtesy of morguefile user southernfired

Photo courtesy of morguefile user southernfired

Wrestling with a hard decision? I know the feeling of unease that “on the fence” uncertainty causes.

Last September, an online description of a house for sale near my hometown caught my eye – a house that fit all of my criteria of a “dream fixer upper”, priced well within our budget range. This unexpected jewel of a listing inspired a serious discussion with hubby about the prospect of perhaps moving out of state, leaving business associates as well as friends and neighbors behind, to return to my hometown area. Buying the house would require a significant move – a four hours’ drive from one city to another — but not a drastic relocation in terms of accessibility to grandchildren (our primary concern these days). Should we or shouldn’t we re-establish ourselves and our business profile in central Illinois?

Knowing the decision could be life changing, we sat down together with paper and pen. Once we created a decision-tree outline, I realized that we had actually reconstructed a decision-making process. It’s not rocket science, but the questions raised are relevant beyond my little corner of cosmic space. What floated to the top were discussion points that could help anyone mediate a decision — alone or in concert with others:

“Decision level” going into the project.
What mental or emotional position (pro or con?) did my husband assume and what outcome did I want? We concurred that our joint decision level was neutral – he wasn’t teetering either way, nor was my mind made up. We could both walk away if we decided “no”, or both get behind a move if we decided “yes” together. (Pre-disposition is important to determine and “own” upfront as groundwork for a respectful discussion.)

What were the polar extremes that could occur if we moved forward?
What was the best-case scenario and worse-case scenario of buying a “needs work” home and selling our present “already sunk a lot of money into it” house? We both knew the likely result of a yes decision would land us somewhere between our best hopes and worse fears, so getting beyond the bubble of wishful thinking (or over the hurdle of an apocalypse mindset) was important so we could focus on the more likely middle-of-the-road outcome as a joint goal or definition of success.

What did our individual “gut reactions” nudge us to do?
For each intuitive feeling we had, we listed rational pros and cons to flesh them out. My gut said yes, to move. Here were a few pro’s I listed: my uncle and cousins would live nearby; one cousin is a contractor who would help me renovate the house for “the family rate”; I know how to lay floors, tile, paint, wallpaper and build; our current house has four levels with too many stairs for us to age in place in it. My husband’s gut said no – he listed the pros of staying in our existing house (with our existing friends and routine), and he made some great points, too – though he had a hard time overcoming the stair issue, when the other house was a single-level ranch! Then we listed the cons to moving and the cons to staying put.

What was the final decision, after considering those elements?
The great thing about going through this process was that either answer would have been “right” because we both felt listened to and we were able to step back and hear one another. At the end of our exploration, we decided to act on the opportunity to purchase a great home at a reduced price and tackle the rehab aspect of it while we still had our health and the benefit of a family expert to tap for affordable help.

Next step: The Implementation Plan (or, as my husband quipped, the “Execution Date”).
Since October, the house has been completely rehabbed, from floors to walls to ceilings, with our needs, wants and wishes in mind. We entered the project determined to reach the goals we visualized that September afternoon, after coming to the decision to buy and move.

What decision are you wrestling with? If it’s worthwhile or life changing, consider pulling out a piece of paper and going through these steps alone or with your stakeholders. If you decide not to move ahead, you’ll know why, which will minimize everyone’s regrets later. And if you do decide to go forward, go with the conviction that you’ve considered it from all sides and so you are invested in turning a dream into a goal.

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About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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One Response to How to make the best (hard) decision

  1. Caleb June 18, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    A very good insight to the decision making process. We face situations every day which requires a tough decision to be made. It is so important to be able to communicate with others and collaborate with individuals that can help make the best decision possible.

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