How to make those big decisions – a matrix approach

How many decisions do you make in a day?

How much time do you give to them?

On any one day, decisions can range from whether to read this article or whether to buy a house. The latter can take so much mental effort. I’ve written a letter to “big decisions” to see if it would yield any answers on how to get more astute at making them, so here goes:

Dear “big decision”,

Firstly, hello, I’d like to say lovely to be getting back in touch, but you know, I’d rather be off doing something fun than agonising over you. I guess I know deep down though, that you would likely say “once you’ve made your decision, and moved confidently on, you know you’ll feel better, so stop faffing and crack on”. Let’s start with the reason its take me so long to write. I think its because you are difficult. You provide me with so many options and so many outcomes. You overwhelm me. In the past, I’ve either made a bad decision or stuck my head in the sand (I hear this is also called decision fatigue!). Please help…

Response: Keep thinking…

No reply, so its back to me. I am left wondering, what is SO important here?

What are the consequences of me choosing one option over another?

I think I immediately go to the possible negative outcomes and maybe get stalled not wanting to think about those. I wonder what might happen if I got more focused on the positive outcomes? This would give me a more balanced view at least. I think sometimes its also hard to look at the results on BOTH short and long term, so that could be a further angle to add?

I’m still not there, so I write again…

Dear “big decision”

I guess it’s not just what it means now, but what it might lead to later maybe? Where does this “big decision”, fit into my overall purpose? If I make a choice now, will it help me reach my long term goals? I;m thinking about whether using my values might help align me? I’m also considering; do decisions make me flounder due to limited information? What other information and which other people could give me fresh perspectives on my options?

Getting advice can sometimes help. It sounds good, but what if I can’t get hold of the people I want. I hate bothering people. Would asking of myself “what would they say if they were here?” help? Another trick I think you play on me is failing to show me the “do nothing” card. In any decision, I always have the choice to do nothing at all and it can happen that I don’t recognise that as an option (with the exception of procrastinating over the decision, as during that time, I am doing nothing by default!). “Big decision”, you seem so important and permanent, yet, do you really have to last forever? At what point could I reconsider?

And so I’ve decided, that I am going to choose to keep talking to you and keep referring back to successes we’ve had together, so I know what helps me in tackling you. I feel so much better for opening up and asking more questions. Eagerly awaiting your ideas…

Response: You’ve totally got this (surprise!) and so I would just summarise to:

  • KNOW the decision (what exactly is at the core) and CATEGORISE it (easy/hard)
  • IDENTIFY ALL the possible options and outcomes (positive and negative, short and long-term)
  • EXPLORE ALL the factors that play into the decision
  • Question the outcomes in relation to your big GOALS right now
  • Weigh them up against your VALUES or rules, which options fit?
  • Answer the question “what happens if I DO NOTHING?”
  • REFLECT on your past decision successes to glean juicy learnings
  • CONSIDER the time frame; how long the decision needs to last for?

If you are still baffled by it ll, download my free decision making kit here (NEW – Jan 2021 coming soon!)

Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden is a Coach at bluegreen Coaching.  Following her own mental health battles, she now coaches individuals, runs training sessions and speaks at conferences.  She has a real passion for helping medics and healthcare professionals take as much care of themselves as they do their patients in whatever life or career conundrums they face!  She is also a Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor. She has a PGCERT in Business and Personal Coaching, holds PCC member status with the ICF and is CIPD qualified. She challenges herself with ultra distance running and Ironman.  Find her at or swimming in the sea, in Poole, Dorset

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