i had a great conversation with a Techstars Boulder associate this morning, and the thing we wrestled over were how to make major life decisions. i shared with her a framework i’ve used in the past.
- accept that the greater error is to not make a decision
the most first most critical thing is to pardon yourself. you may make a right or wrong decision, but the greatest error is to not make a decision. so give yourself a pass from the inner critic and decide to decide.
- put a stake in the ground
i love the word “directionally correct’ that McKinsey consultants use; for example, if the hypothesis is that sales trends moved upwards because of seasonality, and that hypothesis was correct, it’s “directionally correct” - without going into the details.
similarly, draft a few “directions" you may want to go, without going into the details. as long as you have a few directions, you’re set.
- crowdsource feedback
the next job is to gather data points on the various “directions” you’ve drafted to validate the correct direction. ask up and down your stakeholder chain - your parents, peers, partners, bosses, colleagues, and subordinates. everyone has some view on the direction - make sure you capture those data points.
- make the decision
after evaluating the data, make a decision. no need to spend too much time thinking or analyzing - the data points that you have obtained probably give you a fairly intuitive answer.
- evaluate - but don’t evaluate too early
after making the decision, don’t evaluate immediately afterwards - you’ll inevitably have buyer’s remorse.
when i chose to go to the Army, i made this mistake of evaluating immediately and started panicking; fortunately, i calmed myself down. instead, i should have accepted my decision and mentally disciplined myself to not critically analyze my decision.