I got a call for a job interview some time ago and after checking out the Company, they looked good, but I did not think it was a good fit for me. The head hunter called me several times because she thought I would be the perfect candidate for the position. I decided to go and give it a shot. I walked into a room with a friendly looking panel and I thought maybe my original instincts were wrong. Halfway through the interview, everything went south…I was saying the wrong things and showing that I wasn’t really interested. Of course I did not get a positive call back and despite the fact that I was not really interested, I was a bit disappointed.
I reflected on the interview and why I was disappointed. The it hit me; I went against my better judgment and in the process left a bad impression of my personality in the minds of this small group. So was I wrong to have gone for that interview? Does good not come out of every situation? As I processed this in my mind, I realized that right or wrong is sometimes a paradox.
Now there are obvious wrongs like committing a crime, and obvious rights like believing in a higher power as the source of all creation. But how about the in-between? The 50 or more shades of not really right and not really wrong? How do you make a decision when you are faced with either keeping a baby that was conceived forcibly or having an abortion? Or staying in a relationship where you are not really happy, but has produced three beautiful kids? Or taking a job that has nothing to do with what you are passionate about, but would pay your bills immediately?
Now I am not an expert in decision making, but I have had to take some tough and not so tough decisions and here are some things that guide me.
What are my values?
My values are my inner compass which guides me in making decisions. Everyone has a different set of values and it is important to clearly define them. Some of my values like integrity and fairness ensure that I won’t make any decision that would knowingly defraud another person. These same values might deprive me of an opportunity to advance because I don’t like the circumstance surrounding the opportunity and this might be different for another person with a different set of values.
How do I feel at my core?
I try to connect with my core to seek my instinct about the decision. Do I feel good on the inside or do I feel unease? I am learning each day to trust my inner GPS although since I can be a bit of a realist, I try to back it up with some facts. I believe our instinct is our inner messaging system giving us a signal of what our soul really wants. Some great leaders like Oprah Winfrey are known to make decisions guided by their instincts.
What are the pros and cons?
This is where I bring a dose of reality into my decision making and try to weight it quantitatively. I examine the pros and cons of the decision I want to make. Does it have more pros than cons? And would it add more value if I do it than if I do not do it? I just finished working on a book that I have thought about for a long time. I initially hesitated to do it because it was on the subject of relationships which I generally try to avoid – as I prefer to focus more on business related subjects. I, however, weighed the pros and cons and realized I was more likely to add more value by doing it, so I did.
Would this affect another human being positively or negatively?
Taking a cue from the last point, I examine if my decision would affect another human being. If the effect is most likely going to be positive, I would be more willing to take it. If not, I would really think about it. Like the example I gave about the unhappy man or woman who chooses to stay in a marriage for the children’s sake. That decision might be because they perceive leaving might negatively affect the children or it might be the opposite if they consider another perspective that they children might prefer their parents to be happy than to be together. That’s really the paradox of right or wrong!
Is there a third option?
One of the things I have been telling myself recently is: it doesn’t always have to be either/or, it can also be either/and. For example, I can work the job and run the business at least initially, instead of quitting the job and suffering trying to build the business. An alternative is to stick to the job and forget about my passion. I am always earnestly seeking a third option and I have begun to see the wisdom in this approach.
Can I get wise counsel from people I trust?
I am very careful about who I take advice from, because people mostly give counsel from their perspective which may not be balanced. It takes a wise and grounded person to be more objective. However, wise counsel can provide the direction you need. When I am trying to make a tough decision, I usually seek the advice of a few people I trust and respect.
What is my backup plan if it does not go well?
Finally, after all said and done, because I am not clairvoyant and I can’t predict outcomes. I think about a backup plan ahead of time. Now having a backup plan could imply you lack faith – especially for decisions where you need that leap of faith. It could also be a safety net to ensure people don’t suffer unnecessarily. For example, if a married man wants to quit his job and follow his dreams, it is wise that he put aside some savings to meet his family’s basic needs for a certain duration until his dreams begin to yield.
Sometimes I skip or merge a step, but after I have gone through these steps, I feel better empowered to make a decision that is ‘right’ for me.
I hope this helps you make better decisions. In case you want to make better decisions in your relationships, you can check out my ebook on attracting the right person.
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