Chip and Dan Heath, authors of "Decisive" have a great model for making better decisions.  What's most impressive about their view on the matter is the fact that if you sit back and think about it a bit, it's a universal tool. It works no matter what decision(s) you have to make be it at work or at home, in your career or about a project. Rejoice, the world gives out too few universal tools.  

So, what are the four steps; 


The authors use the acronym WRAP

  • Widen your options
  • Reality test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong

Sounds easy, but we almost never do it.  

It's a discipline we can all benefit from learning, even if you have to force yourself at first.  

It's like going to the gym, easy to do, hard to stick with. Everybody can decide to go the gym and you're 100% guaranteed of success, because deciding to go to the gym is easy, actually going to the gym's the hard part. Someone once told me that in a minute you can quit smoking, it's continuously quitting smoking that's the hard part.  

And, contrary to what you might think, more choices are better than too few. There's research that shows that having multiple options, perhaps two or three are best, all in process at the same time allows for you to be less personally invested in the outcome. That will help to automatically widen your options and the multi-tasking part helps to keep the personal investment in any one outcome from getting so high that you can't give it up simply out of fear of personal upheaval if you walk away from what you "knew" to be true.  

Here's a tip; next time you have a decision to make ask yourself what you'd do if none of your current options existed? That just might set you on the right track to removing yourself from the harrows of narrow framing. After all, as Dan and Chip note; "focusing is great for analyzing problems, but terrible for spotting them." 

There are literally hundreds of examples I could site from the personal finance realm that span the decisions from, "I can't afford to retire today" to "which college should my child go to."  

Better decisions bring about better outcomes, starting making them by reading Dan and Chip's book but if you can't do that, start realizing that you can control the decision making process by changing how you make those seemingly "inevitable" choices.  

And if all else fails, get some help, narrow framing often resolves itself when someone on the outside is looking at the issues you can't see, it's that forest for the trees thing that's been talked about forever. And, it appears, with good reason.