We make lots of decisions every day.

Some decisions are easy because your options are clear (e.g., what to eat).

Man enjoying eating strawberries.

While other decisions are more difficult because they are new, complex, or life-changing (e.g., changing careers).

Your options may not be obvious or you may not know where to start.

Man looking confused

Read on to learn how to come up with options for challenging situations.

Why Do You Need Options?

Identifying different options helps you broaden your thinking so that you don't miss out on creative ideas.

Options give you choices so that you can find the best solution.

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears . ~Nelson Mandela

Sculpture of Nelson MandelaPhoto by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Before You Get Started

It's important that you have a clear understanding of the situation before you start identifying any options .

Ask these questions:

Flaticon IconWhy do you need to make a decision?

Flaticon IconWhat are your objectives? What does success look like?

Flaticon IconWho is impacted by the decision?

Flaticon IconWhen do you need to make the decision?

The answers to these questions will help you identify the best choices.

How To Come Up With Options

At some point in your life, you will face a complex or life-changing decision (e.g., whether to relocate for a job or what to do in a crisis).

Astronaut advising Houston command centre 'we have a problem' on Apollo 13 mission.

For decisions where there are no obvious choices, you'll need to be creative in coming up with options.

Animation showing to think outside the box.

You can identify options for each of your objectives by:

  • Getting input from your colleagues, friends, or family

  • Considering different points of view

  • Creating a mind map

  • Searching the internet for ideas

  • Reading articles and books on the topic

Don't evaluate your options at this stage or worry if some suggestions seem crazy. These ideas often lead to the most innovative solutions.

Quiz

Rachel's manager has asked her to come up with some options to improve the team's performance. What should Rachel do first?

Consider different points of view

Search the internet

Learn more about the situation

Ask her colleagues for input

If You Have A Mental Block

Man saying,

Take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed or aren't feeling very creative:

  • Work on something else

  • Go for a walk or get some exercise

  • Get some sleep

  • Meditate

You'll be surprised at how taking a break frees your mind to come up with new ideas.

Write Your Ideas Down

As you come up with ideas, be sure to record them in a journal or make a list so that you can evaluate and prioritize them later.

Sign that reads,

How Many Options Are Enough?

Too many options can be overwhelming! Aim for 4-5 options maximum.

Girl showing board with too many options.

If you have too many options, consider grouping them into common themes or eliminating ones that are not practical.

Take Action

Woman celebrating best decision ever!

Do you have a difficult decision to make? Remember to:

Have fun!

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This Byte has been authored by

LF

Lisa Fatum

Technology Implementation Consultant