Framework for Optimal Decision Making

Jan 24, 2018

Welcome back. We are moving on this week to the 5th step in the Manifestation Model - Intuit Optimal Decisions. What do I mean by Intuit Optimal Decisions? In this post, we're going to work through a framework for making optimal decisions because we're faced every day with many, many decisions, big and small.

Some decisions are very big and send you on multi-year journeys in your life. You want to make sure you have a way to determine what's the most optimal decision. Especially for those big decisions, how can you be sure you're choosing what is most optimal for your life? By definition, there is only one most optimal option. All the other options are sub-optimal.

Traditional Decision Making Process

 In the traditional decision making process, people establish decision criteria, gather data on pros and cons and costs of various options, see off the surface if there's a clear choice, and if there's not, then you can go deeper in an analytical sense and weigh the various decision criteria, maybe score each decision criteria, add up the scores, pick one with the highest score, that kind of thing. There's one big problem with this traditional decision making process - it relies on human reasoning. Now, some people think that human reasoning is the penultimate way to get things done, but I'm going to propose today that it's not. The framework that I'm going to lay out here is based on intuition.

Intuition Based Decision Making Framework

What do I mean by intuition? Intuition is knowing beyond reason and logic. Some definitions I found are

  1. The ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. 
  2. Direct perception of truth, facts, etc., independent of any reasoning process, immediate apprehension. 
  3. Pure, untaught, non-inferential knowledge.

That's kind of deep. What is "pure, untaught, non-inferential knowledge", and where does it come from? I'm going to tackle that in a future post, but for now, let's lay down some principles for an intuition based, optimal decision making framework.

Principle #1 - Never make decisions from a place of fear, uncertainty, doubt, or lack. If any of you are in sales, you'll know that a lot of sales strategies still use the fear, uncertainty and doubt strategy to convince people that they need to buy whatever it is you're selling. Whenever you're feeling fear, uncertainty and doubt, or lack, do not make a decision. Step away. Get more information. Come back at it again when you don't have fear, uncertainty and doubt.

In my own life, my first marriage was completely not optimal, and ended soon after it started, resulting in years of effort to unravel and get back to my true self. Looking back, there was all types of fear, uncertainty, doubt and lack in that relationship. However, I pressed on with the decision anyway. I wasn't really listening to my intuition, and I let the momentum of the decisions leading up to the marriage carry me forward instead of jumping off the wedding train. What's the message? Don't be afraid to jump off the train. You could save yourself years of going down a wrong path. Again, if there is any fear, uncertainty, doubt or lack coming up around a decision, don't move forward. Step back. Get more information. Meditate. Listen to what you're heart is telling you.

Principle #2 - Does the option that you're considering light you up? Does it bring a smile to your face? Does it leave you with a sense of joy? Fifteen years into it, my second marriage still brings a smile to my face and feelings of joy. It was an optimal decision. That's the way you want it to be.

Principle #3 - Does the option expand you, take you forward in the direction of your vision? Does it make you a bigger person? My decision to train to be a personal and business coach is very expansive of my being. It challenges me every day to think bigger, to open up, to love more, and to accept more.

Principle #4 - If applicable (it doesn't apply in all situations), does the option that you're considering create a win-win for all involved parties? If the answer to that question is "no", ask what could be changed to create a win-win for all involved parties? For example, if it were left up to me, I would have every vacation be a sailing oriented vacation, because that's who I am. However, that would not be optimal for my wife and son, so we find ways to slip boating into our vacations from time to time, and occasionally I'll take several days off by myself and just go sailing, because that's what lights me up. That doesn't work for all involved parties in my family all the time.

Principle #5 - In the end, does the option that you're considering leave you jumping for joy? Many times people just settle for what they think their options are. If there's not an option that you're considering around a decision that leaves you jumping for joy, keep looking and asking questions about what would. There are a few key decisions in life where this Principle #5 is paramount, including:

  1. What are you going to do as your vocation? If you're not loving what you do every day, you're going to have an unhappy life. Take time to consider that decision. Also relative to this decision, what are you going to study in school? Sometimes you make a decision about what you're going to study in school and it sets you on a trajectory that you find it hard jumping off the train and getting onto a different train that's more in alignment with you.
  2. Who are you going to partner up with to experience the life journey with? I already gave you a couple of examples from my life. It's very important that you take a lot of time to get that decision right, because that can send you down literally decades of wasted time not feeling joy and not aligned to who you're supposed to be with.
  3. Where are you going to spend the majority of your life? If you like the snow, then you might enjoy living in Buffalo, New York. Personally, that would not work very well for me. So, I live in the south. In fact, when I was a senior in college at the University of Kansas, we were living off campus. I had to walk to school, and there was an ice storm. I fell down three or four times on the way, scraped up my elbows, and said a few four letter words. That was the day that I declared I'm never ever, ever living in an environment that has snow and ice. I moved south as soon as I graduated.
  4. Are you going to nurture children into adults, and if so, how many? Kids are a big, big commitment and take decades of your life. So, whether or not to nurture children in your life should be considered with a lot of meditation.

To summarize the principles for optimal decision making:

  1. Don't make a decision in fear, uncertainty, doubt or lack.
  2. Does the option you're considering light you up / bring you joy?
  3. Does it expand you?
  4. Is it a win-win for all involved?
  5. In the end, does it leave you jumping for joy?

That's the framework for making optimal decisions. We're going to go deeper on this framework in future posts, but for now, try it on. If you like what I'm talking about, please invite others, and we'll talk to you next week. Have a great week!

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