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Better Decision Making, Part 1: The three questions to ask yourself when making a decision

September 21, 2021   |   Financial Life Planning

The topic of decision making really gets me going. I get excited about processing things down, whittling away to get down to the best decision possible in any circumstance. I think it’s the engineer in me.

Good decision making is really at the heart of the work we do at LifeGuide.

At the end of the day, our goal is to help you, our client, make the best decisions for you in your life. So, today, I’d like to share three key questions I’ve found incredibly meaningful and helpful when I’m making decisions.

 

Note: this video was originally published in our monthly client newsletter, Guidepost.

Key question #1: Do I have enough information?

This first question comes from my dad. He would always tell me, “If a decision is unclear, you probably don’t have enough information.”  

Talk about fatherly wisdom.

A few years back, a young couple came in to see me. They were wrestling with the decision to have a second child or not. The husband in particular was concerned about how a second child would impact them financially. Could they afford diapers and clothes? What about college? Could the wife afford to stay home with a second child? If so, for how long? How would this impact their savings? How straining would this all be on their family?

As I talked with them, it became clear that they simply didn’t have enough information in front of them. They were wading through a lot of “what ifs.”

Over the course of our meeting, we gathered all the necessary information and played through different scenarios. We laid all the information out in front of them so they could see the picture clearly and make an informed decision.

Fast forward about ten months. I felt like skipping down the hallway when I got the email that they had welcomed their second child into their family! Once they were able to see all the information clearly, the decision became much clearer. For them, it put their mind at ease that they could, in fact, afford another child.

The reality is that almost every decision has financial implications—not just in one area of your life but in many areas.

Much of the work we do here is in helping you quantify the implications of your decisions and take the guess work out of the decision-making process. As Ron Blue of Kingdom Advisors says, “The longer term your perspective, the better decisions you will make.”

Key question #2What story do I want to tell?

This question comes from a book and video series by Andy Stanley titled, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets.

Our team went through this series together earlier this year, and one question in particular has stuck with me.

It’s this: “What story do I want to be able to tell?”

He says, “Every decision you make becomes a permanent part of your story—the story of your life. So, what story do you want to be able to tell? The good news is you get to decide one decision at a time”.

Andy uses the story of Joseph in the Bible to drive this point home. At every point in Joseph’s story, he repeatedly chose the righteous, often consequential path over the “easy” path. Why? Because Joseph knew the kind of man he was and the kind of man he wanted to be. He knew exactly what kind of story he wanted to be able to tell about his life and made every decision in light of this understanding.

Millennia later, we’re still talking about the story of Joseph.

Whatever decision you’re faced with, ask yourself: What story do I want to be able to tell? Then, hold on tightly to the story you want your life to tell! Let it inform every step of your journey, even when it’s scary, difficult, or painful.

For me personally, this question gets me off the couch and helps me have discipline. It helps me keep a long-term perspective even when the short-term feels enticing.

Andy’s Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets is a great book and video series. You can watch the entire series for free on YouTube. I encourage you to check it out!

Key question #3: What’s most important?

The final idea I want to share with you today comes from my Kinder Life Planner Training:

“There isn’t enough time or money for everything, but there is enough time and money for what is most important.”

If you’re able to keep in focus what is most important to you, you will naturally align your decision making process around the life that you want to build. Similar to knowing what story you want to be able to tell, keeping what’s ultimately mostimportant in focus drives clarity and confidence. It helps to contextualize and minimize distractions or “noise” that arise. It helps you make decisions with confidence knowing you’re heading in the right direction.

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To recap, next time you have a decision to make (whether big or small), take a moment and ask yourself:

  1. Do I have enough information?
  2. What story do I want to tell?
  3. What’s most important?

I hope you find these questions as helpful and meaningful as I have in your decision making process. Always remember, we’re here! Whatever decision you’re facing, we’re here to help you navigate and quantify the decision making process so you can live your fullest and most impactful life.

In part two, we’re going to dive deeper into this question and offer some practices you can use to define what’s most important to you. Stay tuned!

 

— Zak Lutz, CFP®, RLP®, CKA®
LifeGuide Partner & Senior Life & Financial Advisor

Zak Lutz

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