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Decision tools: Resolve to have your own back.

Two weeks ago, we looked at issues around making personal decisions, and last week we addressed targeting those issues around procrastination. This week, I will offer tools and strategies compiled from many mentors and sources that I have found helpful over the years. 


Kristina Guo, Chair of the Division of Public Administration at the University of Hawaii, designed the DECIDE model for healthcare managers. The anacronym breaks the process down to (1) D = define the problem, (2) E = establish the criteria, (3) C = consider all the alternatives, (4) I = identify the best alternative, (5) D = develop and implement a plan of action, and (6) E = evaluate and monitor the solution and feedback when necessary.  This seems pretty straightforward.


I decided I'd add my take on decision-making with an attempt at my own acronym.  RESOLLVEEDD to Have your own back. No, my keyboard didn't stick. Yes, I should get points deducted for misspelling and for tacking on a phrase.  🤷🏼‍♀️


  • R = Refocus. Instead of seeing a problem that needs a decision, I like the appreciative inquiry approach to decisions. Refocus on the positive. What is going well in the situation?
  • E = Elucidate. Elucidate the goal/outcome of the decision. It's helpful to know what you're working toward – your values, purpose, and goals.
  • S = See. See the gap between what is working well and the goal. 
  • O = Open. Open up to ALL potential choices. Too often, we limit decisions to being only binary - stuck in all-or-nothing thought patterns. What options have you overlooked? What are other possible choices you could make? Avoid dismissing them without actually "trying them on." 
  • L = List. List the likely outcomes of each choice (here, it's important to check any natural tendency you have to catastrophize… "If I move across the country, I'll lose touch with all of my friends and family." Tell yourself the truth. That doesn't have to be the outcome if you don't want it to be.) 
  • L = Look. Look into your motivations. Is fear, people-pleasing, or guilt the main motivator for making a particular choice? What would be a better key motivator for making that choice? You may want to take it off the options if you don't find additional motivations.
  • V = Vet. Vet the steps, people, situations. In other words, do your due diligence. Fill in the gaps that will serve you in making a solid decision. Do the research. Too often, we get to the motivation piece and then stop because of "so many unknowns." Address the unknowns to the best of your ability.  With the remaining unpredictables, is there something tangible that will arrive in a few days, weeks, or months that makes postponing the decision on purpose more sensible? If not, embrace uncertainty. You're a primary care physician. Uncertainty is one of your core competencies!
  • E = Engage. Engage your personal board of directors. Get their input. After all, in a multitude of counselors, there is wisdom. But keep this step "right-sized." Too often, we want people to just decide for us. You get to own this decision. Don't overemphasize their perspectives. (Had I done so, I wouldn't have started coaching during a pandemic 😉.)
  • E = Embrace. Embrace your gut. Once you've cleaned up your mindset, explored the options with due diligence, and checked in with your board of directors, go with your gut - your intuition, whatever term you'd like to give it. If you remove fears, and others' expectations and opinions, what do you feel is the one you want?
  • D = Decide. Decide by deciding. It only takes a fraction of a second to make a choice.
  • D = Data. Data gather. What is good about your choice? Point your brain in the direction you want it to go (hopefully positive) and get out of its way. It wants to give you answers. Over time, what lessons did you learn from this decision that can be used for growth? How will you use this data in the future? Do you want to refine or pivot?
  • Have your own back. This means you accept that you made the best decision for yourself with the information you had at the time. You can then put your head on the pillow at the end of the day, knowing it was the right decision for you at the time. It becomes part of your journey. There need be no regrets, second-guessing, or beating yourself up. Learn and move forward.  


Some helpful mantras:      Maybe there is more than one "right choice."

                                          I can just decide.

                                          Just do the next best thing.

                                          Start by getting started.

                                          Small steps lead to significant gains.

                                  This is the best decision for me right now.

                                   I've got my own back.


Okay, just in case Katrina Goa's straightforward system and my amazingly complicated acronym didn't resonate, I offer you a tool from Suzy Welch, author, speaker, and business advisor – her 10/10/10 rule:  

With any decision, ask yourself how you will likely feel about it in 10 minutes, 10 weeks (or months), and 10 years.  This helps (1) to weed out the people-pleasing, guilt, and fear-based decisions, and (2) with decisions that are best for your future self but that may require temporary discomfort to get there. It also gives you the big perspective. Try it out.


No matter what tool works for you, please be RESOLLVEEDD to have your own back!


Have a joy-filled week!  Tonya

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