We make many decisions everyday, most of them unconscious. You just decided which path you should take to work, what to eat, when to drink coffee etc.
These simple decisions often define our habits, they rule our quality of life. There are also very important decisions like what to work on, who to marry or how to invest. These bigger decisions define the future context more than smaller decisions.
After I started using a framework, especially after writing it down, quality of my decisions improved while unnecessary stress mostly disappeared. Square method is a 4 step process that cycles until the decision is made. You can run this process very fast for simple daily decisions and take your time, and journal for more fundamental decisions.
Identify All Choices and Forces Behind Them
It is surprising how rarely we identify all options for a decision and what motivates each one. Some decisions are yes/no decisions and have 2 possible options but even with these, there is always a bunch of gray areas where the outcome might be in between.
Now think of your options and write as many down as possible. Be aware of your bias and try to be aware and see all options, not just the ones that are easier to see. For example, lets practice this for a question I answered years ago.
Q: Will you move to Berlin?
- Yes I will move
- No I will stay
- I will move somewhere else
Now write down all possible reasons, forces behind each option. What supports each of these options. This will give you a detailed overview of the decision parameters.
Understand Next Steps with Each Choice If you Proceed
As we know the motives behind each option, it is time to build a possible future for them. Can you exactly know what will happen if you choose each option? Nope. But you can guess some actions required, potential changes, even some long term implications.
For example, if I move to Berlin:
- My network will expand
- My business capabilities will technically improve
- Will learn a new culture, language and how systems in a new country work
- New capabilities for traveling, experiences, etc.
I can even write more for this option but you get the picture. Now write for each option and be aware of your bias and visit the lists after a while to see if you missed any details. If the decision is momentary, you will think of these in a few seconds, make the call and proceed. I absolutely recommend writing down for important decisions.
Triangulate Your Views with Other Perspectives
Our confirmation bias is much stronger than we imagine. We generally ignore many things while making a decision. Triangulation comes into play to help make a better decision.
Now find 2 or 3 people you really know and trust for a long time with different point of views and values. Bounce the options, potential outcomes with them. It is vital that they know you well.
Do not immediately accept what they say, just hear them to see if you are missing some details that are obvious. At the end this is your life and the decision will be made by you but triangulation will help you expand your data set and eliminate potential short sights.
Accept the Possibilities and Make a Call
Every decision involves possibilities and to make a healthy call, you have to see and accept the risk. Now you have data, you will also feel your guts making a call. Hear them and invest fully into the decision you make, do not half ass it.
Problems generally arise because we half ass it. In my example, I made the ecision to move and immediately started the process which was hard in itself. Though it happened!
Bonus: Experiment if you have a chance.
Well if you are making a big financial decision or have any chance to make a small scale test, do it in any case. Testing will give you real life results before going all in.
For example, you want to move to a new city. Well that is a big decision, you can visit the city, rent an airbnb and live there for a few weeks. Now that will give you much more context for your final decision. Actually, this is what I did before moving 🙂
Another example is, you are excited about the hype and want to start investing in bitcoin. Start with a few hundred bucks and see if it fits you or not. Obviously you can’t do this for everything but it is really helpful for certain situations.
Square Method seriously increased my decision making quality. It is called square because if you still need more data after the first process of these 4 steps, do it again. And remember that big decisions might take a while, that time is well spent and it might make a real difference.
P.S: Check out our new Daily Confidence Rituals free booklet.