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Making the right decision is a question that I am sure we have all grappled with throughout our personal and business lives. Some of you might have a tried and tested methodology, others go purely on gut feel while others don’t have a clue how you decide on anything. Irrespective of where you currently are in your decision making journey, I doubt if it is something that you consciously think about as it is so ingrained in your mental models that you automatically just come to a decision – right or wrong. 

I used to rely on my gut to make a decision and it was almost pot luck but this is the same for all kids! We don’t have enough experience or knowledge and don’t understand the impact of time. As we grow older we flick between gut and some type of methodology like pros and cons but we still don’t know what we are basing the pros and cons on. We also flick between gut and a methodology based on the complexity of the decision or the magnitude of the outcome of the decision. However, I now have a methodology that I use for all types of decisions.

The most important step is to create your point of reference. This is your guiding light. The thing that you are working towards either in your personal or business life. Some companies call this their mission statement. While it might work in a corporate environment for me, the label just does not inspire me. I am inspired by fulfilling a purpose, something that will positively impact as many people as possible and written in a way that makes me proud to communicate. 

The impact that such a statement can have on those around you and the focus that you need to place on every word is perfectly shown by the following example. In 1995 Hewlett-Packard Industrial Research Labs engineer Sid Liebes said that their current slogan of being “the best industrial research lab IN the world” doesn’t do it for him but “being the best industrial research lab FOR the world” will inspire him.

So before you can think about the decision that you need to make you first need to create this ‘point of reference.’ If you don’t have something you are working towards then how do you ensure you are investing your time, energy and resources to fulfil your dream. Once you have crafted this, then making a decision becomes a lot easier. The question you then have to ask is ‘will this take me closer or further away from my point of reference?’ If it takes you closer to your reference, then that is a good thing and if it doesn’t, then maybe you need to consider the impact this might have on delivering your dream. 

This applies to both your personal drivers and business drivers, and it is critical that the two complement each other. If they don’t, you will find yourself in a place of conflict and will add undue stress into your daily lives. So spend time defining what your point of reference is? 

My personal point of reference is ‘to live a life where my needs are fulfilled daily, allowing me to be the best father I can be for my son.’ I have clarity on what are my needs and what I need to be doing more off to fulfil them. 

So spend the next ten minutes writing down what is important to you, what you dream about for the future and what will make you jump out of bed in the morning. Then put that into a sentence, print it off and over the next week keep looking at it and see what kind of emotional and physiological response you get when you read it. If it puts a smile on your face, then you have your personal point of reference!

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