We make lots of decisions every day.
Some decisions are easy because your options are clear (e.g., what to eat).
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.
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
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:
Why do you need to make a decision?
What are your objectives? What does success look like?
Who is impacted by the decision?
When 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).
For decisions where there are no obvious choices, you'll need to be creative in coming up with options.
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.
Rachel's manager has asked her to come up with some options to improve the team's performance. What should Rachel do first?
If You Have A Mental Block
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
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.
How Many Options Are Enough?
Too many options can be overwhelming! Aim for 4-5 options maximum.
If you have too many options, consider grouping them into common themes or eliminating ones that are not practical.