People sometimes ask my help in making a big decision. They usually say they are trying to decide between two options.
That’s not a decision — that’s a self-created dilemma! The way out is to realize there are always more than two options.
When someone says they only have one option, they’re really saying, “I have no choice,” and you know that’s wrong. At very least, add “do nothing” and “go insane” as choices.
When they say they only have two options, it means they got stuck. Once people get two options, they start comparing the pros and cons of those two, and forget to think of more options.
But remember those silly creative brainstorming exercises we did as kids? As adults, people let the “real world” wear them down so much, they forgot that those lessons were not just for kids.
As an example, a friend was trying to decide between sticking with his well-paying but frustrating job, or quitting to start his own company. I suggested some other options:
- Bring your new company idea to your boss, and propose it as a division of their company, so you can stay on salary.
- Before work in the morning, and after work at night, build your new company. Do this until the income from the new company is 50% of your salary, then quit.
- Show up to your job, but secretly just work on your own company all day. Do this until you get fired.
- Do neither, and move to New Zealand to be a tour guide.
My friend explored more options then realized he didn’t actually want to start a new business, but was just avoiding fixing his current situation.
Great insight only comes from opening your mind to many options. Brainstorm them all, from the hybrids to the ridiculous.
It takes under an hour, but has always helped my friends feel less stressed, think clearly, and get excited about a decision that used to feel like a dilemma.