Taking the Stress Out of Making Decisions – A Wholistic Approach

There are many times in your life when you are confronted with a decision to make. It might be a fairly big decision related to a career change or a relationship, or it could be a relatively small decision such as deciding which photographer to use for your wedding. Whatever the case may be if there is a lot riding on the decision, the whole experience can be seen as daunting and quite stressful.

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Earlier this year I was confronted with quite a big decision to make. I had been working for a medium size software company as a product manager for the last five years. Even though I enjoyed the work, I had got to a point where I was feeling quite stagnant and felt like I needed a change. Fortunately during this time, a former business colleague who was running a small “start up” company was in need of an experienced person who could take over the software development and management of his software products wholesale pipes. The job sounded perfect. It was chance to get my hands technically dirty again while having the option of flexible hours working from home whenever I wanted which meant more time with my family. To put the icing on the cake, it was contract based role that offered more money than what I was currently earning.

After assessing my colleague’s company sales pipe and financials the decision appeared quite an easy one for me to make. There was an element of risk working for a start up company but I felt confident that if it didn’t work out, I could always find another job or contract. I remember feeling very nervous and even somewhat emotional when I handed in my resignation to the CEO. He had not only been my boss for the last couple of years, but had also become a good mentor. His response only made the resignation experience even more difficult. He really didn’t want me to go. After an hour of sharing my reasons with him, we agreed that I would spend the day thinking about it. I owed him that much I guess.

Before the day had ended, the CEO asked me to come back into his office to discuss a counter offer. Due to a company restructure that was occurring at the time, there was an opening for a new role as the project group manager for a new project the company had just won, worth over 2 million dollars. Basically he wanted me to take over the responsibility of this project to ensure that the company could meet all the major miles stones. The position involved managing the majority of the research and development team and naturally warranted a pay rise, one that exceeded what had been offered to me by my colleague. From a resume perspective the position looked fantastic.

I walked out of the CEO’s office totally dazed and confused. Fortunately it was Friday and I had the whole weekend to think about it. I explained to my colleague what had happened and that I had to reconsider my options. He was very understanding and was happy for me to think about the whole thing. That night I talked it over with my wife. We both agreed that on one hand the start-up role sounded good especially the flexible hours, but on the other hand there was this great position that would make my career. It also probably meant a lot less time with the family. I could see pros and cons on both sides but no clear winner either way. From the time I had left work until now, I had changed my mind numerous times swinging from one way to the other like a pendulum. I decided to just sleep on it and not stress out.

The next morning I felt I was no closer to knowing which way to go. At this point I knew that the only way I could decide was if I used some form of decision making technique. When it comes to decision making there are a numerous methods that are available. Having been a senior manager I was very accustomed to performance indicators as a way to measure the progress of an individual, group, product or project. So this was going to be my first method. However I felt that for such an important decision this was too one dimensional and so my second method was simply to imagine the day in the life of each role, an idea that I borrowed from a coaching seminar. Finally the third technique, which was suggested by a close friend of mine, was simply to meditate on the options.

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