Monday, November 9, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Make Big Decisions Real

"A problem well defined is half solved." ~ John Dewey

Just when you think you have it all figured out life does something very funny - it changes everything on us. We get thrown an option that we never even imagined as a possibility. This recently happened to me while I was in the middle of making a very big decision. I thought I just had to choose between A and B, A being far superior to B, so superior that it didn't even seem like a choice at all. Enter choice C, a real choice. Houston, we now have a big decision to make and this one is not easy.

I've got several mechanisms for deciding between options. I'm a fan of the pro con lists. I like talking to lots of different people and getting their perspectives on what they'd do if they were me. I've also been known to just wait and see in silence until some helpful piece of info emerges. This latest decision is a bit more complicated. B and C are actually equally great options. I'd be lucky to have the opportunity to pursue either avenue. Now it looks like I'll have the chance to choice, and they will lead me in wildly different, happy directions. This is the classic case of two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

For inspiration in my decision-making, I was reading through some of my books this weekend and came across a few books by ?WhatIf! Innovation. In How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas, Chris
Bar├ęz-Brown talks about the very personal decision-making he and his wife went through when they were deciding whether or not to have children. To make their choice, they decided to live their life for a week as if they had decided to not have kids. This helped them live their through the lens of that decision, sort of like a test-drive of a car. After that week they re-evaluated their choice to see if it felt right.

Chris's method is vastly superior than my pro con lists and asking 100 different people what they would do. His method makes the choice more personal and lets us experience some of the consequences that hit us shortly after we make a choice. In truth, I'm a little scared of this process and I'm going for it anyway. I've recently noticed that one of my areas of personal improvement is to see the downside of a situation as clearly as I see the upside. Chris's process will allow me to not only see the downside, but experience it. It brings a certain reality to the situation. If tough decisions need anything at all, it's a healthy dose of reality. I'll let you know what I find in a week!

If you've never read Chris's book, I highly recommend it. It's a perfect, inspiring read for anyone at a crossroads looking for guidance from one of the world's leading creative minds. Get it here.

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