Last week I was faced with a life changing choice and 48 hours to make a decision.
This was big. The biggest and most difficult choice I’d been presented with in perhaps years. In the process of making it, I stumbled into creating a decision-making process I’ll be using to make big choices from here on out.
It combines Tim Ferriss’ fear-setting method, some data-geek metric-loving, feedback from the 15 people in the world who’s opinions I most trust (and who’s thoughts I go and pondered to make this choice), and the process of ‘percolation’ used by the world’s greatest copywriters, and Barry Shwarz’s thoughts on The Paradox of Choice.
Here is my method for making huge decisions…
Step 1: Dodge Paradox of Choice
First off, narrow your options down to no more than three concrete and well-defined choices. More than that, and your mind won’t be able to fully grasp all the variables. You’ll loose yourself to analysis paralysis.
Make sure they are clear, concrete, and easy to convey in no more than a few sentences each.
I narrowed down my choices to…
1) Work with Salty Volt & Linchpin. Full schedule, highest and most certain monetary value, stress guaranteed.
2) Work with Salty Volt & Best Trip Advice. Full schedule, lower guaranteed monetary value but possible huge value to be made via part ownership of BTA, stress guaranteed.
3) Work with Salty Volt only. Spare time and energy to devoted to other things, equal guaranteed monetary value with #2, low stress.
After a bit of thought, I decided to drop option 1 due to my desire to only take on projects I’m deeply passionate about.
Step 2: Gather Data
Collect all the information you can about each of your choices. Ping the few people you most trust and admire in the world, tell them briefly what each choice looks like, and ask them which option they think you should choose. If they have a few extra minutes, tell them you’d love to hear why they think what they think.
I identified my 15 tribe members who I most admire and whose opinions I most trust. Then sent them a medium sized email that quickly defined my options, told them I my timeline, and told them I’d love to hear their thoughts.
Step 3: Define Fears & Dreams
Use Tim Ferriss’ method of fear-defining to, in deep detail, define exactly what the very worst and very best case scenarios look like for your options.
Look to Step 4
Step 4: Quantify
Following a modified version of Tim’s method in step 3, give each case a score between 1-10 representing how impactful it would be to your life.1= No impact. Nothing changes. 2= Pretty significant impact. Noticable life change. 3= HUGE impact. Life changing.
Now give each case a percentage number based on how likely it is to happen.
|Worst Case||Best Case|
|SV & BTA||I screw up both Salty Volt and Best Trip Advice. Tim and I go cold. Kat and Luke and Sofia all resent me for fucking up. Some word gets out and I have trouble getting new clients.
I have virtally no savings. A few hundred dollars, maybe.
I fly back to Canada a bit defeated. Start trying to find feelance clients again.
|I kick ass with Salty Volt, writing everything that needs to be written, wonderfully, rocking out the community, helping find investors, doing a PR launch. We keep working togther with me as community manager and growth hacker for $1000/month.
Best Trip Advice is making $2500 in sales a month from now, I own 10% of it and so am making $250/month off that. It’s growing.
My relationships with Tim and with Katie and with Luke and with Sofia are all excellent. I’ve surrounded myself and am working fully with really awesome people.
|SV||I give Salty Volt everything I’ve got, get paid the $1100. For whatever reason, our work together ends there. Relationships stagnate. Relationship with Tim stays lukewarm as it is now. RadNomad, despite my best efforts, stays grounded.
I get no additional freelance gigs. I’ve got like $500 in the bank.
Once again, I’m searching for freelance gigs
|I kick ass with Salty Volt, writing everything that needs to be written, wonderfully, rocking out the community, helping find investors, doing a PR launch. We keep working togther with me as community manager and growth hacker for $1000/month. My relationships with Katie and with Luke and with Sofia are all excellent. I’ve surrounded myself and am working fully with really awesome people.
I take on a few rad clients here and there that I find via Salty Volt and other connections. I’m bringing in another $500/month without too much extra work.
The RadNomad community is growing, I’m making about $100/month through amazon sales and playing around with growth hacking techniques.
Step 5: Score
Now do some math. For each choice, multiply each impact score by it’s likelihood to happen, then subtract the final worst case number from the final best case number.
SV & BTA: (9*25)-(5*25)= 100
SV Only: (8*40)-(2*10)= 300
Step 6: Percolate
Now take a whole day off. Vow not to think about it for just one day. When you do catch yourself thinking about it, stop.
This is pulled from Joe Sugarman’s copywriting method of stepping away from his writing and going to do literally anything else for a while. When he would come back, he found that subconscious had mulled it over and he was able to see a ton of improvements and ideas that he couldn’t see before his percolation.
Step 7: Decision Time
Come back, look at the numbers, feel what your gut instinct tells you.
You have all the info. Now give yourself 2 hours to make your decision.
Once it’s made, it’s made. No more thinking on it, the choice has been made. “The word decision, closely related to incision, derives from the meaning ‘a cutting off’.” – Tim Ferriss
Commit to it and have no second guessing. In the words of Markus Almond, “Commit yourself fully to your decisions and happiness will follow.”