Making Decisions - Choosing Your Alternatives

Every decision you make will have alternatives. Sometimes it seems as if there are obvious choices, often only two (yes / no, door number 1 or door number 2...), but at the beginning of the decision making process it is valuable to try and think of as many different alternatives as possible. Some may get weeded out later, but that is OK. That is the way the decision making process should work.

Take some time to try and expand your list of alternatives. We have all heard the phrase "think outside the box". But, how do you really do that?

Brainstorm your alternatives. Consider alternatives such as your ultimate dream solution, ideas that you may have eliminated due to cost, alternatives that you don't even think you can achieve. Consider adding the best and worst case alternatives, cheapest and most expensive options. Try not to censor yourself at this stage. Allow later steps in the decision making process to weed out the poor choices.

For example, we moved recently. Initially, we thought we would rent for a short time while looking for a house to buy. Our alternatives were limited to homes listed for sale. Then we thought more about lifestyle questions. How do we really want to live? What groups of people and activities appeal to us? These questions not only influenced where we wanted to buy, but also led us to explore the virtues of long-term renting, buying two smaller residences, and even RV living. Through considering other aspects of our move and "thinking outside the traditional box", we also expanded our list of alternatives.

Explore the full range of options available to you and your odds of arriving at the optimal solution to your dilemma will increase dramatically.