When we have a big decision to make, we often turn to the old reliable pros and cons list.

The idea is that you get a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and then list the positives of the decision on one side and the negatives on the other.

The side with the longest list of reasons wins.  Decision made.

However, what if one list is longer, but trivial and the other is shorter, but more compelling?

What if you have a big career decision to make and the multiple advantages of money, prestige, future possibilities and recognition compete with the sole negative of spending a lot of time away from your wife and young family?

Here’s my idea:

When you use a pros and cons list, write a number from 1 to 5 (1 being trivial and 5 being extremely important) next to each reason.

For example, if you’re deciding on a school for your kids, the location may be an important issue (5), whilst the uniform may be much less important (1).

Then when you’ve finished your list, don’t add the number of ideas on each side, but the total of the numbers attached to them.

This should ensure that you are making a decision that’s more aligned with your values.

I’ve used this technique to great effect when coaching people who were suffering from “paralysis by analysis” and didn’t know what to do next in life.  It helps to bring clarity to the range of choices on offer that an arbitrary list is unable to achieve.

For your next big decision, why not give it a try and let us know if this helps.

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