Making life decisions that benefit yourself and others can be much harder than you think. How many of us have chosen to do, or not do, something that didn’t work out, or would have been beneficial for us and our family if we had have done it? I bet most people have experienced this, it’s part of being human. I know I have and that’s why I learnt the following process that’s helped me and many others to make better life decisions.
The problem with making life decisions like “should I take that new job?” is that we don’t always consider the wider impact to ourselves and our partners and family over time. That’s where taking different perspectives can help us to make better decisions.
The key to a better decision making process is to take different perspectives by asking yourself how your decision will affect your current self, your partner in the present, your future self, and your partner in the future. Or to summarise: Now me, now us, future me, future us.
By judging your decision based on the impact it’s going to have on your family as well as you, and on your future selves, you can gain a greater sense of whether or not the choice you are contemplating will be either good or bad for you and those you love. When you make a decision that’s based on only your current self and how you feel about it then it’s easy to miss vital pieces of information and to make decisions that end up not being good for yourself and your family.
Let’s go through an example together. Say you have the opportunity of a new job. The pay is great, it’s a company you admire, the staff seem friendly, and you think it’ll be perfect for you. To the Now Me it looks like a no-brainer, you want to take it right away. But then you filter this decision based on Now Us and realise it means a much longer commute each day to work and back, longer working hours, and so less time with your family each day (which you know your partner won’t be happy about.)
Now let’s take it further and evaluate based on Future Me. You might realise that your future self will be more tired and unhappy after commuting so long each day. That the extra time worked each day will really add to your unhappiness in the long term and that the increase in wages isn’t worth it. Through the perspective of Future Us you also might realise that your partner will be even more exhausted too as they’ll be looking after your kids by themselves for longer each day. So you’ll both be more tired and it’ll cause potential friction in your relationship.
So even though at first to Now Me it seemed like a good decision to immediately take the new job, once you look at the decision through the 4 stage perspective taking decision process it will become clear that either you need to make a different choice or that you were right and should proceed.
The next time you have an important decision to make try filtering it through the 4 stage decision making process and watch your decisions become wiser and as a result your life getting better.