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How to Make a Decision

Updated on September 8, 2011
High Court, Singapore
High Court, Singapore | Source

Everyone faces times when they have to make a tough call. Sometimes the decision to be made is a choice between two good options and it's really hard to pick one. I find a weighted pro and con list can help clarify the situation immensely. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Define your choices

The purpose of this step is to make it clear to yourself what you are deciding so you can more definitely envision what each means. For example, if you are trying to decide where to live, outline the different options. With this technique of decision making you can consider more than two options at once.

Let's say you're going to college and your choices are:

  1. live with parents
  2. live on campus
  3. get apartment with friends

Step 2: List the positives and negatives

Your next step requires you to consider all the negative implications of each option. Try to envision your life as if you had chosen that option, and try to guess all the bad things that might happen. Then go through and do it again, finding all the positives of each option. I find it helps to consider only negatives first in order to keep my mind focused.

Using our example, your list might look like this:

1. live with parents

  • mom and dad hovering
  • free
  • mom cooks

2. live on campus

  • no way to get away
  • parties
  • meet new people

3. get apartment with friends

  • messy roommates
  • cheaper than campus
  • some parties

You will have more positives and negatives than this, but this gives you an idea of the kinds of things you can think about and include in your lists.

Step 3: Assign a value to each positive/negative

Now, you'll go through and weigh each positive and negative my assigning them a value of 1-5 based on how important they are to you (from not that important to very important). If the item is a negative, give it a minus in front of its score and if it's positive, it get a plus. Try to be consistent between your options. So, if money is very important for one options, it should have the same importance reflected in the others.

Again, using our example:

1. live with parents

  • -4: mom and dad hovering
  • +5: free
  • +2: mom cooks

2. live on campus

  • -3: no way to get away
  • +4: parties
  • +4: meet new people

3. get apartment with friends

  • -2: messy roommates
  • +3: cheaper than campus
  • +3: some parties

Step 4: Calculate your totals

This is the easiest part: simply calculate the totals for each option, subtracting the negatives and adding the positives. In our example, the totals would be:

  1. live with parents: 3pts
  2. live on campus: 5pts
  3. get apartment with friends: 4pts

What this tells you is what you, yourself, really think is the best idea based on the things you value.

Step 5: Make your decision

While weighing the options is helpful in making a decision, you still have to actually choose. If you see your totals and feel like there is a mistake, re-evaluate your positives and negatives to see if there is something you are missing, or perhaps something is more important to you than you thought.

There's no one perfect way to make a decision, but this method can at least help you see what is important to you and which option is most likely to deliver that for you.


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    • amazingchild profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Thanks for the feedback! I hope the info is helpful.

    • amazingchild profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Thanks! Don't worry about your score- just keep working on it! That's what the forums say, anyway. :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Good way to figure out the pros and cons of the variables in making a decision.

    • SerLeon profile image


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Nice hub there man . . . . N dude. . . .!! U joind 8 days ago . . .hv writtn 7 hubs n hv a score of 83 . . . . DAT is aWSm man . . . . I mean i jst joind 3 days ago maybe. . . 2 article n 38 score (hangs head in shame) . . . Gues i need 2 wrk. . .


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