By the end of Tuesday I had two job offers in front of me, and I had to make a decision by the end of the week. But I’m a terrible decision maker. What I have though is a great trick that helps me clear my mind, gather all the information I need, and make an effective and final decision right on time.
So there I was on the Tuesday having been offered two different jobs. I had already decided I was going to leave my current employer – I could see downsizing ahead and it looked like my whole department would be asked to move interstate or find another job. So I had done a few interviews and found two positions I was very interested in, and that allowed me to stay in the same city.
I was lucky enough to be offered both jobs, one on the Monday, one on the Tuesday. Both companies wanted answers as soon as possible, but definitely by the end of the week.
I couldn’t decide. This was such a big choice to make – the roles were quite different but both very interesting, and the companies were also quite different in size and structure. The role I choose would make a big difference to my long term career direction. The stress of deciding was building up, I had tried using some decision making tools, but in the end I couldn’t decide, and nobody else could decide for me.
Set a Decision Deadline
So I made an easier decision first. I set a decision deadline. I decided exactly when and where I would make my decision. I choose a specific time (10am Friday morning) when I would make my decision, and a specific place where I would go to make it (one of the meeting rooms at work).
I wrote down my decision time and plan so that it was locked in stone, and so I gave my brain the message that it could stop worrying about the big decision, because it now knew exactly when it has to make it.
Set your deadline for the Last Minute
I initially planned to make my decision at 8pm on Thursday night, in the living room. I knew though, that when this deadline came around I wouldn’t make the decision, I would procrastinate until the following morning. And I would procrastinate because I didn’t need to make the decision on Thursday night. I only needed to make it one minute before I phoned the two companies and told them my decision.
I couldn’t reasonably have phoned them late Friday afternoon, so I figured I had to let them know by 10am Friday. Hence that would be my decision time.
Until then Just Gather Information
So what did I do with all the time leading up to my decision deadline? I gathered information, and I wrote it all down. I wrote down the pros and cons of each of the jobs I’d been offered, I wrote down what my future career path would look like in each case, I wrote down how much travel time I would have for each one, and what were the characteristics of each company that I liked or disliked. I wrote all sorts of things down that would be part of making my decision.
Like a brainstorming session, I didn’t try to sort the information or make an early decision, I just wrote it all down. I’d didn’t stop thinking about the decision all together, I just stopped worrying about it and trying to keep all the options and factors going around in my head at the same time.
Stick to your Deadline
Writing down your deadline makes all the difference when it comes to sticking with it. I had it written down, and at 10am Friday I went into the meeting room, looked one last time at all my notes, took a deep breath, and made my decision.
And of course I wrote that down too.
The weight was off my mind. I knew I had put enough thought into it, I knew I had considered all the factors and gathered all the facts, and I knew I had to make the decision and it couldn’t wait any longer. I was able to decide confidently and get on with what I had to do as a result.
When you’re faced with a decision that is hard to make, is weighing on your mind, or creating worry that is distracting you from other things, try this:
- Set a decision deadline - a time and a place
- Make it as late as possible
- Write it down
- Until that deadline, simply gather the information you need
- Stick to your deadline
Have a safe and productive week!
- Jamie Ross
Mining Man - Practical Safety, Leadership and Productivity Ideas for the Mining Industry
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