Risk Versus Regret: How to Make a Decision (4 min.)

Risk regretAre you decisive?

Can you identify what you want, how soon you want it and immediately go after it with all your heart?

Or… are you indecisive?  Does making a “big” life decision give you the heebee-jeebies?

Do you stay up night after night pondering the options, considering the alternatives and feeling pangs of anxiety as you think about taking one road over another?

The reality is that most people have both tendencies within them: the no-nonsense go-getter on a mission and the wishy-washy, on-the-fence/off-the-fence worry wart whose bitten her nails down to the bone… and still can’t make up her mind!

The problem with being both is that if you’re the wrong kind of decision maker at the wrong time, you end up making major life decisions that have SERIOUS consequences… and then spend the next 10 years trying to undo what you shouldn’t have done in the first place… thus comes the fear of making ANOTHER mistake which leads to the fear of making ANY decisions which eventually leads you to a no-where zone called STUCK.

So how do you overcome the analysis paralysis and get to the place where you can look at risk versus regret and make the RIGHT decision at the RIGHT time?

The best way to battle the fear of risk versus regret and to, at the end of the day, make a decision you’ll love and can live with long term is to follow the advice of Chip and Dan Heath who wrote an AMAZING book (i.e. go on Amazon and purchase it TODAY!) called Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

In the book, Dan and Chip talk about the four villains of decision making and then go over their WRAP model of decision making.  Here’s a brief over of the WRAP model as it applies to the fear of risk versus regret:

  1. Widen your options- Somewhere between risk and regret is a middle ground.  Far too often, we only look at extremes.  Widen your options, consider all the possibilities and then move forward with making a decision.
  2. Reality-test your assumptions- You’ve had the friends who are police officers and then wake up one day declaring, “I’m going to quit my profession and become an actor!”  Sure, tell them to go ahead and do that.  However, that’s not the best way to change careers or to make serious life decisions.  Before you go all the way on any decision, reality test the option.  Take a baby step toward the goal.  Try it out for a few months.  Become an apprentice to someone who’s doing what you’d like to be doing and see how that goes first.  Don’t give up what you’ve got for something that you’re not 100% sure you REALLY want.
  3. Attain distance before deciding- Here’s one truth I live by: Don’t make decisions in a rush.  If God could take six days to create the world and then rest on the seventh day, there’s nothing wrong with saying to any person, situation, or opportunity, “I need 72 hours to think about it.”  No decision made in a rush works out.  If someone is pressing you to make a decision NOW and you aren’t sure about it, the answer is very clear: NO.  If you want to make a major life decision, the last thing you need is a rushed, do-or-die sense of pressure forcing you to make a decision you aren’t ready to make.  Emotions are too high under those circumstances and the last thing you want to be doing is making a decision based on how you feel as opposed to a decision based on what you KNOW (knowing requires both head and heart).  Get some distance (time, space, and quiet) to consider your options before making a decision.
  4. Prepare to be wrong- My favorite of Dan and Chip’s four step model, this is the game changer right here!  All the planning in the world cannot prepare you for what life with throw at you: the changes, the unexpected curve balls, the obstacles, the new dilemmas, and the introduction of people, places and situations you could’ve never seen coming.  When you make a decision knowing that you could be wrong, knowing that things WILL go wrong, knowing that there are no guarantees but giving yourself fully to the process anyway, you experience a kind of freedom and power that allows you to receive the good and leverage the bad.  When you do that, even the worst situations get better fast.  Remember: there are no “perfect” solutions; only solutions that are right for you in this moment.  The next moment may be different…

At the end of the day, it’s better to risk and learn than it is to not risk and regret.  When you’re 90 years old, you want to look back on your life and say “My, I lived!”, not “Boy, I wish I had!”  Either way, you’ve got to make solid decisions so that even when you regret a decision you made, you don’t end up paying for that regret for the next 10-20 years.

Remember the words of John Maxwell:

The choices you make make you… 

For more information on the book ‘Decisive’ and on Dan and Chip Heath, visit their website –>HERE<– 


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