List your options. Even if your situation seems difficult to solve, try to make a list of all of the approaches to the problem. It is not necessary to analyze at this point, just simply brainstorm and write down the ideas that come to mind. Many solutions may seem crazy but the goal of this exercise is quantity and not necessarily quality. You can always cross off the ones you don't like later, but you may be surprised to find some ideas that are creative as well. If stumped, ask others for ideas. Sometimes, those not directly involved can think of things you may not have thought of.
Weigh the possible outcomes. For all of your alternatives, now list every possible outcome and label it as positive or negative. Simply assign a plus sign (+) next to a positive outcome and a minus sign (-) next to each negative outcome. Some people find it helpful to make a decision tree at this point, as shown above, which lays out every possibility in a graphical format.
· For every scenario, think about whether the best possible outcome is worth accepting the risk of the worst possible outcome. If the worst possible outcome is completely unacceptable to you, meaning that you could never forgive yourself if it happens, then you probably shouldn't make that decision.
· Assign a probability for each outcome with a percentage (e.g. there's an 80% chance of this happening, and a 20% chance of that happening). Your estimates must be based on experience, observation, or from outside help.
· Consider which option will encounter the most resistance and why. Significant difficulty in implementing a decision can sometimes outweigh the benefits of the outcome, depending on the situation. Other times, it's the most resisted decision that would make the biggest difference.
Make a decision. Hopefully, there will be a decision on your list that is backed up by both logic and intuition. The decision you choose must have more plus signs than negative signs, and it should have your intuition's approval. At this point, you should feel comfortable with your decision. If for some reason, the logic and your intuition don't match up clearly, ask for advice from people you trust. Their input can be a good tie-breaker. No matter which decision you make, be prepared to accept responsibility for the outcome. If things don't work out, it's always better to have made a conscious decision than to have been careless. At least you can say that you put thought into your efforts. If possible, have a contingency plan in preparation for any negative outcome. Always think ahead. The best decision makers aren't people who never make mistakes; they're people who hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Evaluate your decision. This is one of the most important steps. If you don't evaluate your decision afterward, you won't learn anything from it. Ask yourself whether the outcome was what you expected. Would you do it again? What do you know now that you didn't know before? How would you turn this lesson learned into advice? By drawing insight and wisdom from every decision you make, you can ensure that every choice has at least one positive outcome.