This blog series was inspired by a conversation we had about 6 months ago, involving a big decision I (Jess) was then facing. What was interesting was that through the course of the conversation I realised that there were many dimensions to the decision that I had not considered and I ended up hugely benefiting from getting another perspective. This reflection inspired us to offer up this big decision series and the framework of the Four Lenses as a way to help you navigate any such big decisions.
You have lots of opportunities and choices, small and large, which can impact the quality and creativity of your life and can expand or shrink your world. This series focuses on one particular category of these decisions – those where you can only choose one option and which often convert into Lifechangers. Obvious examples of those decisions, which are typically faced by people in their 20s or early 30s, are:
- marriage decisions/ commitment to life partner
- choice of country of domicile / place you call home
- decision whether to buy a home and if so, which one
- choice of career
- choice of whether to be an employee of one organisation, to set up your own business or to do a mixture of roles
Variations on these decisions which might be faced by people of other ages include:
- major health decisions (eg re major surgery)
- divorce or not
- retirement or not
- moving from a single full-time job to part time or retirement
So how do you usually negotiate these big decisions?
- by flying somewhat blind or hoping for the best?
- by relying principally on our gut and feelings?
- by following the expectations and traditions of your family and culture? Note: we are all influenced by this in our own ways or by making the decision by default? Ie You never get round to making any decisions – so either nothing ever happens or someone else makes the decisions for you.
Sometimes these approaches work, but they don’t help you to explore the full range of opportunities available and potentially cut you off from the best fit. They also are unlikely to help you when you need to make tough decisions, pioneer a big change in your life or deviate from society’s status quo. For those decisions you are likely to need a more reflective approach. For this reason we have created this blog series to help you:
- recognise that these are big decisions. There is often a broad range of potential outcomes, good and bad, that you have to live with for extended periods;
- think outside the box to understand just how big the dimensions of opportunity in this decision are. This involves both the good and bad outcomes of your decision, and the time, energy or dollars required to implement it. Alongside this are also the other opportunities that your choice will preclude you from. Think of it like food envy. You don’t just have to eat a bad dish, you also missed out on the mouth-watering main of the friend you are dining with. When this metaphor extends to love over a forty year period the envy really starts to hurt.
- prepare by anticipating these big decisions and thinking about your options and your approach to the final decision as early as you can. If you’re going to spend 30+ years in a career or a marriage or say 5 years in a job or home, it’s worth spending a few extra hours or days thinking about or preparing for the big decision or picking the brains of some trusted confidants; and
- think strategically about the big decision through the Four Lenses framework.
We’ll be aiming to do individual blogs on the relevance of the Four Lenses to each of those five decisions which many young people face – marriage, country of domicile, home purchase, career and employment v self-employment. An interesting part of this exercise has been sharing and contrasting our values, perspectives, questions and conversation starters which reflect our generational divide.
As an introduction to those later blogs it’s worth reflecting on some of the tools that are relevant across many such decisions:
- What needs of mine is this decision relevant to? What really matters to me? What are my expectations from this? What are the deal-breakers for me on this?
- What are the strengths I can bring to this?
- How do I currently see myself and my life?
- What are the other big decisions I have to make or can forsee?... and what influence might they have on this one?
- Am I currently in the right frame of mind for making this important decision?
- How do I balance logic and emotion in making this decision?
- Am I procrastinating, and if so, what is holding me back?
- What are the alternative routes open to me now? ..and by decision time?
- How can others open my eyes to other options?
- How would each route change how I see myself and my life?
- How will each route help me flourish? …empower me? …bring me opportunities? How big are those opportunities?
- How will each route box me in? ..disempower me? …cut me off from opportunities? How big are those opportunities I’ll be cut off from? …and for how long?
- What opportunities is procrastination cutting out?
- How do I maximise the benefits from this chosen route? … make it easier?
- Who can help me maximise the benefits from my chosen route? ….make it easier? Do I have the courage to ask them?
- How would this route change how I can grow my world?
- When is a good time to make this decision?.....and to take this step?
- Are my expectations from this chosen route realistic?
- What was my mindset at the time of making the decision? What is the simple narrative which reminds me why I chose this route? (In fact, was this totally my decision and do I really own it?)
- What are the things I should be celebrating along the way?....prioritising along the way?......ignoring along the way?
- How do I avoid the dangers of perfectionism?.....and the dangers of comparisons with my neighbours, siblings or mates…?....and the dangers of others’ expectations?
- Am I prepared to put in what is necessary to make this work?
- How can others help me ensure it works?
At the end of the day you’ll still have to make these decisions on imperfect information and not necessarily at the perfect time but it helps to have a framework to plot your way.