Decision making is a strange beast. It might be the most flexible, volatile and versatile process humans use during their entire existence. The same reasons supporting a certain decision, can be used, in a slightly different context, against the very same decision. What’s good today for me, may not be good tomorrow. What worked so far, may not work from now on.
Because life has no intrinsic meaning, and because we’re subject to permanent, relentless change, it’s hard to come up with a consistent decision making framework. The balance between predictability and fear of missing out is impossible to maintain long term. There must be enough room to adjust to unforseen circumstances, but also enough runway to plan ahead, to generate predictability.
I used many approaches in the past, and some of them are still with me. Especially the Assess – Decide – Do framework. But I find these tools to have a limited efficiency in important, life altering decisions. They may work well for daily, mundane processes, but when I’m faced with something that has the potential to change my life for years, I don’t use them.
Instead, I engage in an evaluation process. Basically, I try to gauge how much of a “yes” or “no” are we taking about. Is it 80%? Is it 95%? Do we have a 100%? Even more, how do I define these percentages?
Let’s See An Example
Moving out to a new country is, by an large, a life altering decision. I already went through this process once, after I moved to Spain, and I’m in this process now, changing countries once again. There are obviously a lot of variables to take into account when engaging in such a process. The most important one, is, obviously, the place where you’re going to live.
I’ve been in two cities so far, in this new country, testing the overall feeling and seeing a lot of apartments. Not going to dive into all the logistic details, as they are not important for this article. To make a long story short, I came very close to picking a place. I was like 95% convinced that was the right place (including city, neighborhood, facilities, etc).
But I wasn’t 100% convinced. It was 95%.
And if it’s 95%, then it’s a no.
When I take a decision, and I am 100% convinced, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I looked at all the potential pitfalls, and I took into account all that can go wrong, and I assessed everything. Nope. That would be impossible. It simply means that I made peace with everything that can go wrong, and I am moving forward from a place of balance and trust.
There are many unexpected things that can happen along the road, but starting from a “100% ok” place means I can give full attention and energy to solving them. Whereas if I start from a 95% place, it means there will always be some leaking, some loss of energy, some doubt creeping in and affecting the entire process.
The problem with this 5% that is not OK, is that it compounds. It may feel small in the beginning, but if, in your system, is still a solid 5% (or even 1%, for what matters) that 5% won’t go down. It will carry on, day in and day out and it will grow until it will start spilling over the remaining 95%.
It goes like that in any major decision, like relationships or jobs. Even if a relationship is 95% ok, the remaining 5% will eventually creep in. Or if a job is 95%, the remaining 5% will drain you out, eventually.
What’s The Actual 100%?
So, how can I say it’s a “100%” and not a “95%”. You would be surprised to learn that this value, 100%, is more of an intuitive process, than a mathematical one. It does imply a lot of checking for hidden flaws and a lot of features to be crossed off of a list, but it’s mainly about how the entire context falls into place. It’s not only how many “must have” are crossed off, but also how much am I going to dive in. Am I going to plunge 100%, taking all the responsibilities and giving it 100%? Also, the change will be clean enough so there won’t be any leftovers that needs to be managed? Again, this is about real life situations, like don’t get caught in extra commitments, but also about an intuitive, gut feeling approach, in with I am at peace with both what lies behind and what lies ahead.
Because if I’m in a place of balance, and there are no spillovers, nor serious lacks, I can fully take in everything that comes. It will be 100% living. And that’s all there is to it.