We make thousands of decisions every day. Most are small, like whether to have a second cup of coffee. But have you considered the process you take when you make bigger ones?
Decision-making is important. What we decide today can have an impact on what tomorrow, next month, and even next year brings.
As we mature and grow, the ways we make decisions tend to do the same. So what is an effective decision-making process you can use that will support your values and future?
Today I’m letting you in on how my process has evolved over my adult life. I’ll share the mistakes I’ve made and how I came up with the most effective decision-making framework you can start using today.
Decision-Making in Early to Mid-20s
In my early to mid-20s, I based most of my decisions on proving myself. Growing up with self-employed parents, I wanted to achieve the success they had if not more. I used other people’s success as motivation, but not always in a good way.
I compared myself to others who seemed to be succeeding faster than me. I saw their fancy cars and wanted to impress others the same way. So I made decisions that would make people think more of me.
As a result, I took my eye off the main prize. I wasn’t spending money in smart ways. I’d buy luxury cars on impulse to impress others and to show that I was successful and doing well.
My decision-making involved little thought and strategy. That resulted in quick decisions based on immaturity. I cared about people seeing me as successful, and I wanted to make myself feel good.
When that is your main motivation, that’s when you make poor decisions. Luckily my motivations and maturity evolved as I entered the mid-point of my career.
Decision-Making in Mid-Career
By the time I was in the middle of my career, I had a young family. My wife and I decided that she would stay home with our daughter, so we were a single-income household. I was the provider, and as such, my success in business became a priority.
I worked hard, wanting to prove that I could outwork others. My decisions focused on doing whatever it took to get promoted. That way I could continue increasing my income to support my family.
As the sole provider, I felt that this is what was best for my household. But it resulted in me putting too much value on money.
Even though my decision-making process had matured since my early to mid-20s, I was still taking my eye off the prize. I still had room for improvement.
This leads me to today, where I have an effective decision-making process that aligns with my values and keeps me from making poor decisions.
Current Decision-Making Framework
My decision-making process is much more strategic and thought-out today. I don’t process decisions through a single lens anymore – I use a few different lenses. First is always faith and family. I don’t put anything above my family or my faith, and they go hand in hand.
Then I go through my professional and personal framework: Head, Heart, and House.
Step 1: Head
I take time to strategically consider the decision. I ask myself if I have the time and bandwidth to say yes to the opportunity. Does it support my goals or further my business?
Step 2: Heart
I then ask if the decision matches my morals. Am I passionate about the decision? Will I want to go all-in? If the opportunity goes against my morals or doesn’t align with one of my passions, I let the opportunity go.
Step 3: House
Finally, I consider how the decision would affect my home life. Will it cause stress? What is the risk vs. reward?
Going through this process helps me have more clarity and intention in what I’m doing. I also have a better relationship with money. The day I gave up the dream of being rich is the day things changed for me. I keep my priorities in order by taking time to think through decisions before I make them.
When All Else Fails, Learn From Your Mistakes
Of course, by no means does this mean that I don’t make mistakes anymore. But, using my effective decision-making framework keeps me from making as many mistakes as I used to.
Don’t beat yourself up for opportunities missed or having too much on your plate. Learn from your mistakes, and try out this framework next time you have a big decision to make.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out The Company We Keep Podcast. I share what I’ve learned over time so that I can help you achieve whatever your professional or personal goals may be.