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Making Better Decisions

By Ken Davis

Decisions Matter

The execution of Australian "drug mule" Van Nguyen polarised opinion in Australia. On one hand the "pro-choice" lobby said he knew what he was doing, made a risky choice and paid the price, whether they agree with the price. Others portray him as a victim of circumstances, a pawn in a much bigger game.

Generate options and find information

Whatever you think about the death penalty and personal responsibility, Van paid a huge price for his "small gamble". In hard times we often limit our view of the available solutions, and end up making choices that are very costly. If you are in a pressured situation, what can you do to make sure you've considered a wide enough range of options?

Heres a few ideas:

* Phone a friend - say "what would you do in my situation?"

* Find someone who has been through or done what you want to do and talk to them.

* Visit your library.

* Call a coach, counsellor or expert in the field.

* Search the net (but don't believe everything you read.

* Ask better questions - like, "How can I XXX" instead of "Why is this happening to me?"

* Brainstorm - write down EVERY idea you can think of to solve the problem, no matter how absurd.

Don't forget to ask, "What are the possible long-term consequences of this" and "Am I prepared to pay the price?"

The range of choices we face in modern life can be overwhelming, so it's sometimes scary to increase the options to choose from. In spite of the fear, we need to do it. That's the first step.

What factors affect the decision?

The next step is to identify the factors affecting your decision. Most people do fine with the practical stuff, so if they buy a car, they know they want it to be red, get good mileage, and impress the neighbours.

One thing you should add to your decision-making is your values. So when I make a decision I factor in how the decision relates to my top 5 values:

* How well does it express my creative side?

* How well does it express my spirituality?

* How much is it about enabling others?

* How well does it express being sensitive and generous?

* Does it allow me to learn and grow?

How important are they?

Not all factors will equally affect your decision, which is why you need to assign a "weight" to each factor. You tell it how much you want each factor to affect the decision.

When you've got a number of options, and lots of factors to consider, it can get a bit overwhelming. Thats why I use an Excel spreadsheet to help me with the maths.

A free tool to help

The free decision making tool at will rank your options, based on your answers. You may automatically know that the top-ranked answer is best. You may also disagree. The biggest benefit of the tool is to help you ask better questions. If you disagree, ask yourself "Why?", and "What is my preferred option?" Examine the differences between the two. Have you missed something? Is there a factor you haven't considered? Have you overestimated the importance of one or more factors?

Try it out and let me know how you went. Happy Decision Making!

About The Author

Ken Davis is a Time Master. With 20 years experience as an Occupational Therapist he now coaches individuals and groups to live purposeful, passionate lives. Living with Myalgic Encephalomyeltis (CFS) means he needs to live a great life in about 30 hours per week. You can get resources to live a happy and purposeful life, whatever your situation at


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