Here’s A Simple and Creative Way To Make Difficult Decisions

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | May 12, 2023

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein

We all have the capability within ourselves to answer challenging questions and make difficult decisions. This was the third major takeaway from my trip to Zurich

Now when I mean challenging questions, I am not talking about technical questions that have a numerical answer. For these types of questions, there are any number of tools and experts out there. 

I’m referring instead to situations where you are debating your options (“Should I quit my job and start a business?”), making an assessment (“Am I experienced enough to do consulting work?”), or looking for direction (“I just got laid off, what do I do next?”). These are situations where the decision making process doesn’t depend on calculation but instead requires a softer and more creative mindset.

In my last article, I mentioned that we might search our feelings to figure out the right thing to do. However, for those of us who are analytically minded, this is easier said than done. So, how can we provide a catalyst to the process?

Get The Aha! Moment When You Need It To Make Difficult Decisions

We’ve all been there. We’re actively trying to figure out the answer to something, but it eludes us completely. And then, a few days later, while in the shower or while tossing and turning in bed, the answer just pops into our minds in an “aha!” moment. If only we could harness this unknown thought process and use it to help us to make difficult decisions.

When we have an unexpected aha moment, we’re often in a different state of mind. So the key is to try and replicate that. Here’s a technique I learned from the Jung Institute:

1. Get Stuck

If you haven’t already done so, take your topic/decision/conundrum, and get to the point where you get stuck. Gather your information, make your list of pros and cons, talk to anyone you need to for advice. Then, put everything aside for now.

2. Get Into Your Creative Zone

Whatever you like to do to unwind: read a book, watch a video, or listen to a story that has a cliffhanger. But stop right before the cliffhanger is revealed. With that sense of incompleteness in your mind, make up a suitable resolution. If you were the author of the story, how would you write this cliffhanger

Take at least five to ten minutes to think about it and put your answer on paper with a few sentences or a quick sketch.  

3. Connect Your Solution

Now look at the answer that you created. But instead of thinking how it would fit into the story, try to guess at the mindset of the answer. What does it remind you of? Anything different about how you went about the solution? If you were a stranger looking at this, what would stand out?

Now go back to your actual problem. Do any new thoughts or feelings come to mind? Use these elements to work towards the answer you need.

A Different State of Mind

It might be easy to categorize this approach as simply looking at things from a different angle. You’d be partially right. Not only are you looking from a different angle, but also through a different lens. As with anything, once you’ve tried this technique a few times, it becomes easier. As with any technique, it’s not the only way, just one that I like and use with my clients to help them make difficult decisions with their financial planning.

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