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Taking Pro-Con lists to a new level

We face and make choices everyday. What shoes to wear? What to eat? And so many more. For some of the bigger ones many of us rely on a method to guide us to make effective choices.

While I never had a yellow legal pad like all the people in the movies who are obsessed with pro/con lists I did love them dearly. The premise was simple, draw a line down the page, and on one side write all the pros of making a choice, and on the other all the cons.

This would then sometimes give clarity on making the decision. What I’ve found is this method no longer opens my eyes to New ways of thinking about the choice.

For many people, once we understood the method, we'd automatically create these pro/con lists in our minds and so writing them down no longer gives us the clarity we desire. Also as we make bigger choices, about buying houses, sending kids to schools, and choosing our own personal development courses and mentors the stakes get higher and the pro/con list doesn't seem to be enough. Do you relate?

What this meant was while I’d write down all the pros, all the cons, I’d still be no closer to having a clear outcome, a clear scale tipper in terms of the direction I wanted to go, because I had already logic’d and often balanced them out, there were just as many pro’s as con’s.

I remember the first time my coach tabled this alternative method. She said something like: "Let's look at the consequences and possibilities from this choices" Initially I thought I know this, I've already done a pro/con list. She then proceeded to share something that opened my eyes, and gave me an ability to go beyond the 2 dimensional outlook of a pro/con list, and look at the choices through 4 dimensions.

This quick tweak on the pro/con list, in the way of 4 questions to explore consequences, has changed the way I make decisions, and I love passing it on to my clients, and anyone else who is curious about how to make clearer choices. What the pro/con list method failed to take into account is that there are at least four dimensions available for us to explore. Doing the thing, not doing the thing, things that will happen, and things that won't. The pro/con list, for most people, generally, only focuses on if we go down a specific path, doing the thing. What if we also looked at the consequences, or the pros and cons of NOT going down that path, not doing the thing.

The 4D question model is simple.

If you DO (Option) what WILL happen? If you DO (Option) what WON’T happen? If you DON’T (Option) what WILL happen? If you DON’T (Option) what WON’T happen?

If you have more than one option available to you, answer the questions for each alternative. Often this way of asking ourselves questions allows us to more clearly see the choice that most resonates with us as being sensible. It generally will bring to life an angle or a potential consequence (good or bad) that we hadn't previously seen. Try it out and see.

While this is one of many models we can use when making decisions it's one of my favorites because of it's simplicity. If you'd like to connect with a community who are making choices every day about how they want to tap into even more fulfillment through taking baby steps on a regular basis click the link below to join our Facebook group.

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