Before starting on any journey, you need to know the destination. Stephen Covey wrote in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that we should always “begin with the end in mind”. Our brains are wired such that if we envision a desired destination or an outcome, it immediately starts trying to figure out how to get there.
Start by listing the desired outcomes of your decision. I list here some guidelines to help you get started: Desired outcomes should satisfy one or more of the following:
- Make or save money
- Advance your career
- Increase your job or general life satisfaction
- Improve job or family relationships
- Reduce stress
- Increase satisfaction
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. They are simply a starting point. When you list your desired outcomes, avoid being so specific that you limit your options or solutions. Here is an example:
- “I want to move to Florida” is not a good desired outcome. It is too specific and excludes other options that may be more satisfying.
- “I want to live where the weather is warm and the housing is affordable”. These are good desired outcomes. There are many places, not just Florida, that satisfy these conditions.
You also will want to think in advance how you will measure success. In the above example, what does “the weather is warm” mean to you? It may mean something different to someone born and raised in Minnesota as opposed to a life long Texan. You might measure success by stating “I can go swimming and cycling at least 9 months out of the year”. Knowing how success will be measured helps in the decision making process.
In your “portfolio of decisions”, you will want to avoid taking on too much risk, and conversely, being too conservative. You do this by toggling your efforts between preventing negative outcomes and promoting positive outcomes. An example of preventing a negative outcome is buying insurance. An example of promoting a positive outcome is a career change. I’ll post more about this in the upcoming post on the topic of risk management.