Write two paragraphs each describing a different scenario:
- A time when you made a good decision, yet had a bad outcome.
- A time when you made a bad decision, yet had a good outcome.
- Without much thought about a precise problem definition, write a sentence describing an important decision you will / are facing. The problem definition does not have to be eloquent or perfect. (my problem is should I sell my house and move away from friends and family to obtain an accounting job)
- Write a couple of paragraphs describing the decision you are considering for the purpose of better understanding the issue. Here are some ideas: Why did you choose to examine this issue? What are some things that are important to you in this decision? Are there any important constraints (e.g. I have two months to make a decision.)? How important is this decision as it relates to you and the person you want to be? Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years?
- Now that you have discussed the issue you are facing, attempt to re-cast your problem definition in a way that may allow you to consider several and creative solutions. Be careful in regard to framing. You will not want to limit your alternative choices just by the way you stated the problem.
4.-Create a list of as many objectives you can think of in relation to the problem definition at hand. If helpful, try drilling down asking “Why” multiple times in order to uncover root objectives. A good number of objectives would be between five and ten distinct objectives. Ask yourself, “Do my objectives clearly state what I want?”
5-Create a list of as many alternative solutions as you can in relation to the problem definition at hand. Two or three alternative solutions may indicate a lack of thought or creativity or it might mean that the issue at hand may not be appropriate for this assignment. Set a goal to create between four and eight distinct alternatives. You do not need to write paragraphs or discuss each alternative at this point in the process. Most importantly, do not judge your alternatives and do not consider which alternative is best. Such a discussion will take place in a later activity.
6-For each alternative solution you are considering, write at least one paragraph discussing the potential consequences. If you have five alternatives, write at least five paragraphs. Allow your list of objectives guide your discussion. That is, how well is the alternative under consideration meeting each of your objectives? What are the down-side risks of the alternative under consideration? Do not attempt to determine the best alternative. At this point, your task is to remain emotionally unattached to any alternative, but rather describe what life would be like if you did choose a particular alternative. Choosing the best alternative takes place in the next activity.
7-Create a decision trade-off matrix. Because objectives are not of equal importance, be sure to develop an objective weighting system. Score each alternative in relation to each objective. Do you need to factor in any serious down-side risk to any of the alternatives? Determine if any alternatives are clear winners, or which alternatives are to be eliminated.
8-In regard to your decision you have been working on, write a paragraph or two discussing some of the questions posed in this section on Jesuit discernment. For example, do you feel your decision is consistent with your values, and does your decision allow you to become the person you are or want to be? Was your decision made free from undue influence of others or yourself? It is okay if you find the answers to be “no.” No simply means that the discernment process is not complete. It might be that more time is needed; good decisions are not forced.
The following is a partial list of decision making traps:
- Sunk cost
Research any three decision traps that interest you and write 1 paragraph for each trap (3 paragraphs total) describing and illustrating each trap. In addition to defining each trap, provide examples of when you or someone you know fell into the decision trap. Such examples are common, and know that you are not alone. Most everyone falls into decision traps now and then.