From time to time, or if you are anything like me – everyday, we are faced with decisions. While some decisions are easy when viewed through moral or ethical lenses, others are not as black and white. For example, which of two jobs to take, what college to go to, whether or not to attend a particular event; the list is endless. For those types of grey decisions we can often benefit from some form of decision making tool. When choosing a tool to help gain clarity, we should seek one that weighs all sides of each option equally. One tool that accomplishes this goal is a decision matrix.

Below is a decision matrix template. Notice box A represents the question “If I do “xyz” (fill in the blank) the best thing that can happen is (fill in the blank). Box B represents the question “If I do “xyz” (fill in the blank) the worst thing that can happen is (fill in the blank). Boxes C and D work similarly and answer the questions “If I don’t “xyz” the best (C) and worst (D) things that can happen are (fill in the blanks for each question).

If I do “xyz” A B
If I don’t “xyz” C D
Best thing that can happen Worst thing that can happen

The decision matrix in practice

Let’s say you are contemplating starting a new restaurant business. You might have the following answers to each question:

  1. If I do open a new restaurant the best thing that could happen is that I’ll be doing the work I love.
  2. If I do open a new restaurant the worst thing that could happen is that I’ll go bankrupt and lose my home.
  3. If I don’t open a new restaurant the best thing that could happen is that I won’t risk going bankrupt and won’t have to worry about losing my home.
  4. If I don’t open a new restaurant the worst thing that could happen is that I’ll never know if I could have had the career and life of my dreams.

O.K. now you have four different outcomes clearly represented in your answers. Two reflect doing something and two reflect not doing something. The real question now becomes which options (those tied to doing or not doing) can you live with and be most at peace with if they were to occur? Would you be able to best accept your doing or not doing outcomes? Once you answer that question you can then begin to move towards that decision with clarity and peace knowing that whether the decision results in the best or worst outcome, you will be able to move forward with gratitude for having taken that action.

PS: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All