My husband and I made a big financial decision, and you might the process we went through helpful. It left us feeling in control and empowered — both of which have been hard to come by during very uncertain economic times.
Big decisions are inherently tough. As you’ll see below, clarity is key to feeling more in control and empowered, especially during very uncertain times. If you’re feeling confused grappling with a tough decision, don’t worry. I help people find clarity, so they get unstuck and move forward all the time.
So, without further delay, here is the decision-making process my husband and I used to gain clarity and take charge of our choices.
Step 1: My husband raised the issue of the financial decision based on his assessment of the economic future. Because it wasn’t on my radar screen, I asked for some time to think about it.
Step 2: I first looked for clarity by honestly assessing my past behavior related to the decision and reconnecting with my values. Previously, I haven’t taken a very active role in long-term financial decisions so I knew that left to my own devices, I likely wouldn’t in the future. (I don’t recommend this, just being real.) My values reminded me that I had a choice to make and if I did nothing two things would happen: (1) I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach — take charge of your choices in work + life and (2) I would give up my power by not making a choice. This act of self-reflection propelled me forward to expand our options by gathering information from experts.
Step 3: I researched some sources that I trust to learn what they were saying. Not only did this provide context for our decision, but it helped me think about which I trusted to safeguard our country’s economic future. The bad news is I didn’t find much to trust in our leaders. The good news is that I felt more empowered to decide, knowing I didn’t want to leave it up to someone else.
Step 4: At this point, I was leaning toward making the choice my husband suggested a couple of days earlier. I decided to share my thoughts to see if he could find any holes or errors in my thought process. We discussed his feedback and agreed to let our conversation sit for a few hours.
Step 5: I confirmed the process we needed to take if we decided to move forward, which prompted a conversation about our shared desire to make decisions accounting for potential regrets. This is different than making a list of pros and cons and comparing them. I believe that if a big decision doesn’t turn out to be the best decision it’s critical to be able to remind yourself why you made the decision in the first place and that you did your due diligence to make the decision. So, we talked about this and worst-case scenarios if our decision wasn’t the best decision down the road. We decided we could wholeheartedly live with our decision even if it might not be the best decision because we would know exactly why we made it with the information we had at the time.
Step 6: I asked for 45 minutes to sit with our decision just to make sure I felt good about it. This gave time for any underlying feelings to sneak up on me when my mind wasn’t actively taking the lead role. I felt good about our decision, and I initiated the steps to implement it.
Step 7: We debriefed our decision-making process and subsequent feelings. Immediately, we felt a greater sense of control — because we took charge and made the choice based on our best efforts—and empowered to make other choices together as they arise in the coming months. Fortunately, these feelings continue to persist days later 😊
Without knowing it, my husband and I followed a decision-making process called WRAP. Heath and Heath explain their decision-making process as the following in Decisive (2013):
- Widen Your Options
- Reality-Test Your Assumptions
- Attain Distance Before Deciding
- Prepare to Be Wrong