A Tip for Decision Making: Stop Weighing Pros and Cons

You’ve got a tough decision to make and the clock is ticking. What do you do?Three rubber bands to illustrate the rubber band model of decision making.

Some of you may attempt the age-old method of analyzing pros and cons. Weighing advantages and disadvantages has its merits — it looks orderly, for one. Seems balanced.

But it’s also negative, some critics of the method say. The inclusions of “cons” can cast a black cloud over how you’re making decisions.

Here’s a tip for making decisions through a more positive lens. Think about two rubber bands. Each represents the outcome of a choice. One is pulling you left; the other is pulling you right. Tangled in the tension between the bands, ask yourself:

  • What’s pulling me?
  • What’s holding me?

These questions frame the issue so that both options have a chance to shine. Rather than grappling with bad verses good, the rubber band model compels you to find the attractive aspects of both possibilities when making a decision.

Next time you’re pressed to make up your mind, try out the rubber band model. I like the emphasis on attractive qualities; for me, it eliminates some of the anxiety-fueled road bumps that can happen when you’re pressed to decide.

Photo credit: Larry Rosenstein

I learned about this model in The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking

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