Making decisions is a serious business, not only setting the stage for the direction of our lives, possibly setting us up for success or failure, but also a very important part of problem-solving. In fact, several books and websites I’ve seen, like mindtools.com, seems to treat problem-solving as mainly a decision-making process. Besides using prayer in making decisions, these two resources are the best ones I have found.
In technical college, I took a course based on Edward de Bono’s work, which gave me a strong basis for making decisions, and has helped me many times over the years. I came up with the nonsensical acronym PAFO CAC, to memorize the steps involved. The acronym PAFO CAC does not specify which steps are taken first, and which come after.
- “P” for Plus/minus, or another way of saying Pros and Cons. In this step, you list the plus and minus factors for each option.
- “A” stands for Aims, goals, and objectives. What is it you intend to achieve?
- “F” is for First important priorities.
- “O” is for Other people’s opinions. Discuss your situation, challenge or problem with other people, share your thoughts about it, and see what they think.
- “C” stands for Consider all facts. What are the various factors or issues involved in the decision or challenge?
- “A” is for Alternatives and options. As stated above, these steps aren’t listed in order of which steps should be done first. The alternatives and options step might be the best step to start with.
- “C” stands for Consequences and Sequel. What comes next? Or if you pursue a particular option, what could you expect after taking that route?
The book Overcoming Indecisiveness is a great resource for making decisions, and while it is out of print, it can be still found used online. The part of this book I found the most helpful, was Theodore Rubin’s 8 stages of decision making:
- One: listing and observing all the possibilities, options or choices involved in the issue.
- Two: sustain a free flow of feelings and thoughts about each of the possible choices.
- Three: observing thoughts and feelings about each of the options and applying those feelings.
- Four: relating choices to establish priorities.
- Five: designation! Coming to a conclusion by designating one choice and initiating discarding those not chosen.
- Six: registering the decision.
- Seven: investing the decision with committed feelings, thoughts, time and energy and completing the elimination of the unused options.
- Eight: translating the decision into optimistic action.