Diagram for Decisions

I’m not sure what prompted me to recreate this tool and put it out there, but it’s something I learned in graduate school and think is indispensable.

I find it difficult to make decisions at times, especially when there are a number of factors involved that are important to consider in the ultimate answer.  Being ADHD certainly doesn’t help, as it often speeds up the my thought process, creates more factors to consider, and is liable to make me act impulsively without thinking an opportunity through.  So I use this tool when I have a big decision or one I am particularly stumped on and I hope you find it useful as well.

We often make decisions looking at various factors without taking into consideration the actual  importance of the factor in the decision.  As I used in my example in the illustration, if we are thinking of moving, a number of factors may come into play for us; money, job availability, friends, family, social life and moving expenses.  A rich extrovert has a different final decision than a rich introvert because of the value they place on these different options.

It is difficult to quantify those values and turn them into something actionable.  This tool allows us to do just that, because you give a rating to the importance of those values in making the decision.   So using this tool I first look at all the things that I value and will influence the outcome of the decision, and rate each of those according to how important they are in the decision, and then I score both outcomes in relation to the value.

Confused?  Let’s look at the chart.  As an example I listed some things important in a move and rated each on how important they were to me, a 1 being not important, a 10 being very important.  As you can see on the chart I gave the living expenses a 1 (not at all important).   So when I think about moving, my new location would have a high living expense so I give it a 2.  I currently have relatively few living expenses so if I stay here I give it a 9.  So for living expenses, if I move the weighted value of moving is 1×2=2, and the value of not moving is 1×9=9, so I should not move.  However, when you do it for all of them you will notice the effect of living expenses not being a super important factor.  The total of all weighted factors is what gives you the ability to make a final decision.

It might seem confusing at first, but when you get the hang of it there are a ton of great uses and it really helps clarify what you want in life.  You can do it with anything; a new job, move, trip, or even something simple like if you want to plant a garden.  Sometimes we drive ourselves crazy trying to come to a solution, so I find that going through this type of exercise can help curb our impulsive inclinations and really clarify what is important to us so we are sure to make the right decision.

Feel free to e-mail me if you want an excel copy – kathryn@ifred.org.

Are there tools you have found helpful in making decisions?