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Making Hard Choices at Work

Throughout our lives, we are all met with making tough decisions at one point or another. Should you go left, or stay right? When the answer isn’t clear, and we don’t know which choice is the “right” step to make, the analysis paralysis can keep us stuck and not making a step at all, which in itself is its own decision. If you’re having to make a tough decision at work and aren’t sure which step to take, here are some things to keep in mind and practices that may point you in the right direction.


Make a Pros and Cons List

It may sound trite, but a pros and cons list can be an incredibly helpful way to compare options in black and white and help you get clarity on which option would be your best bet. In an article on Indeed they write, “Sometimes, when you’re trying to make a tough decision, it can be tempting to disregard some of your options straight away. It’s crucial to carefully consider all of your options, regardless of the situation. You could try writing out the pros and cons of each of your options and spending a short amount of time carefully assessing each one. This can help you visualize which of your options are the strongest and narrow down your choices until you find the most suitable solution.” Putting pen to paper and visually having your options laid out in front of you can help you gain more clarity.


Ask Yourself a Set of Questions

In an article in Harvard Business Review, they recommend asking yourself these questions:

  • What are the net, net consequences of all my options?
  • What are my core obligations?
  • What will work in the world as it is?
  • Who are we?
  • What can I live with?

They go on to say “To grapple with these questions, you must rely on the best information and expertise available. But in the end you have to answer them for yourself. With gray-area decisions, you can never be certain you’ve made the right call. But if you follow this process, you’ll know that you worked on the problem in the right way—not just as a good manager but as a thoughtful human being.”


Get Other’s Feedback

If the decision you are making isn’t a private matter, consult with those close to you and get their thoughts. It can be helpful to have already completed the above two exercises and let them know your current position. In the same Indeed article they write, “Even if the responsibility is on you to make a difficult decision, you can still ask for help instead of doing it on your own. You may consider consulting your colleagues if you feel that they can add expertise or inputs that could aid you in the decision-making process. They may also consider aspects of the issue that you’ve overlooked. Remember that the most important aspect of making a big decision isn’t whose idea the solution is, but finding the best solution for the problem you’re facing.”


Make Peace with Your Decision

While we would all love to always make the right decision in life, it doesn’t always play out that way. Mistakes happen and from those experiences, we learn more about ourselves and hopefully, it leads to better decisions in the future.