How do you decide the best course of action to take? What should you do in response to unexpected events? How should you respond when things don’t go as planned? How much time do you have to make a decision?
Your life is shaped by the decisions you make. The decisions you make are based on the options available. Therefore, accurately identifying and assessing your various options is essential. Only when you understand your options are you in a position to make a sound decision.
You are a unique individual. What might be a great option for someone else could be an awful choice for you. Before you are in a position to begin assessing options you must first have a thorough understanding of yourself.
You must recognize your likes and dislikes. You must know your strengths and weaknesses. Your objective is to pick options that match your desires and capabilities. Identifying the requirements of the various elements of your life is also worthwhile.
These elements include personal, work, family, social, financial, emotional, relationships, and spiritual components. Make sure you understand how each one fits into your life. Choosing options that conflict with one or more of these components results in undesired outcomes.
Other aspects of yourself impacting the options you select are your knowledge and experience. If you don’t know a lot about what you are dealing with, or have little or no experience, you need to either acquire knowledge and experience or consult with someone who has it.
Accurate information along with a thorough understanding of your situation is also of paramount importance. If you misunderstand your situation or have inaccurate information you are unable to appropriately assess your options.
Before you start to identify options, determine how much time you have. Any issues with an impending deadline need to be addressed first. You are seeking options compatible with the time available.
If you get a flat tire while driving, your first option to consider is the location of the closest safe place to pull off the road. Where you will purchase a new tire is irrelevant at that moment. Once you are safely off the road and put on the spare, you can begin to look at your options for replacing the tire.
Before you select an option, you want to know what choices are available to you. Brainstorming is a productive process for this task. List every possible option. Don’t evaluate or rule out anything. List every idea, even if it seems farfetched or unrealistic. Having lots of ideas sparks your creativity. The best option may be a blend of the things you listed. Once all options are listed, determine the positive and negative aspects of each one.
Now you are ready to begin assessing each one. It’s OK to combine pieces of your listed options to create additional options. You are looking for options where the benefits for you outweigh the disadvantages. Although other people will have opinions as to which option you should pick, your selection must fit your requirements.
When assessing your options, always keep in mind how much time you have to make a decision. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities because of paralysis by analysis. There is no way to guarantee a perfect decision. All you can do is make the best choice possible based on the information you have available. Learn from your past what to avoid and what to repeat.
Accurately identifying all available options will improve your decision making. This process constantly evolves with time and experience. Study those people who are where you want to be and learn how they identified and assessed their options.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden