The best way to make a decision is to weigh the pros and cons. You know that. You’ve done that.
What you’ve never done, though, is really weighed the pros and cons.
Today we’re going to zoom in on 2 ways you can up your pros and cons game to make the best decision ever.
Two-Way Weighted List
First up, we’ve got the Two-Way Weighted List
This method of weighing your options is best used when you have lots of pros and cons, but some that matter more than others.
The beauty of this baby is that it’s pretty straightforward.
Step 1: Ask a question
The question might not be obvious at first.
More often your “question” starts as a “thought.”
You could simply be thinking about a “thing,” for example, “applying for a new job,” “getting a roommate or living solo,” or “buying or leasing your next car.”
Turn your thought into a question that has a clear “yes” or “no” answer.
Step 2: List the pros and cons
This part’s pretty straightforward.
Divide a sheet of paper into two columns: one labeled “pros” and the other labeled “cons.”
List all of the pros and cons you can think of.
Then, read through each list and write down any new ones that come to mind.
Step 3: Weigh your options
Now that you’ve got all of the pros and cons down on paper, assign each pro and each con a value between 1 and 5 — 1 meaning “it doesn’t really matter too much to me” and 5 meaning “it means the world to me.”
Once each pro and each con have a value, add up the pros and add up the cons, and compare.
Four-Way Inclusive Pros and Cons List
Your other option for a pros and cons list is a Four-Way Inclusive Pros and Cons List. And this too can be done in 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Ask a question
… same goes for this list!
The question might not be obvious at first, but do your best to turn your thought into a “yes” or “no” question.
Step 2: Make a table
Once you have your question, make a table that includes the “pros” and “cons” of “doing the thing,” and the “pros” and “cons” of not “doing the thing.”
It’ll look a little something like this:
Then, fill it out!
Step 3: Analyze your options
To take a look at all angles of the situation, take a look at:
- Pros of doing + Cons of not doing (that’s the ammo for saying “yes”)
And compare that to:
- Cons of doing + Pros of not doing (that’s the ammo for saying “no”)
Then, decide what makes the most sense to you!
If you want to get real fancy, you may want to weigh your options too. Assign each pro and each cons a value between 1 and 5 — 1 meaning “it doesn’t really matter too much to me” and 5 meaning “it means the world to me” — then compare the scores for each group.
While we love pros and cons lists (or any list, really), it’s important to note that pros and cons lists have pros and cons.
While they are a great tool and quick, efficient way to solve a problem more deliberately and tangibly (pros), they can also oversimplify or overcomplicate an issue, or cause people to rush to judgments or make choices without thought and feeling (cons).
So we like to think the making of pros and cons lists as the real trick — it’s the process that helps, more so than the finished product.
As you create your lists and/or assign values to pros and cons, it forces you to dig a little deeper and ask yourself why something is a pro or a con, or why it means or doesn’t mean so much to you.
This helps you:
- Slow down (and hold your horses)
- Pay attention
- Think rationally
- Feel fully
In the process, most people find they “just know” what to do after taking the time to think things through — before even tallying the pros and cons, or comparing the dos and don’ts.
That being said, it’s time for you to see for yourself.
Are you looking to answer a question that
- Has pros and cons, some of which matter more than others. If so, your problem is best solved with a Two-Way Weighted Pros & Cons List!
- Has lots of pros and lots of cons, some of which aren’t super obvious.
Your problem is best solved with a Four-Way Inclusive Pros & Cons List!