Decision: Bad, Good, or Great?


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One option is good, one option is great. How do you make a decision?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

You have a decision to make, you’re under a time crunch, and lots of people are counting on you!  What do you do?

Let’s practice: Make a decision between running forty miles or eating your favorite meal.  Which did you choose?

Here’s another: Would you rather get punched in the face or spend two hours doing your favorite hobby?

One more: Would you rather run over someone’s pet with your car or land your dream job?

These are all ludicrous, right?  Not many of of us would have a hard time making any of those decisions.  Deciding between the bad and the good is surprisingly easy.  There’s an important caveat though: It’s easy to make a decision between something good and bad in a vacuum.  Given pressure, temptations, etc., things could get more tricky.  But, in general, it’s fairly easy to see the difference between the bad and the good.

Making a Decision between the Good and the Great

This one is harder, both in a vacuum and in the real world.  How do you do it?  It’s not as easy to give examples for this one since everyone’s definitions of “good” and “great” are so driven by personality, context, culture, etc.  But when you’re faced with a decision like this, you know it.  In fact, almost any decision that you’ve ever struggled with is likely one in which you had to pick between something good and something great.

Things can get even more complicated though.  Usually when you are actually making the decision, both options seem good or both options seem great.  It’s not until weeks, months, or years have passed that you can see which one was really just good and which one was great.

So what do you do?  How do you make a decision between the good and the great?  Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Obvious: If it seems plain to you from the start which option is good and which option is great, fight hard for the great.  Why would you settle for pretty good when super-awesome is within reach!?
  2. Patience: Take as much time as possible.  Unless there’s a rush, there’s no rush.  You never know, by taking your time on the decision, the good and great might reveal themselves, thus making your choice much, much easier!
  3. Legal Pad: Whip out the legal pad, or Evernote, or whatever you take notes on, and make a pros and cons list.  Split it up into time chunks: 1 month, 1 year,  5 years, and beyond.  Then for each time category think of the pros and cons of each option.  This will help you build in some perspective from the start of the decision-making process.
  4. Cons: Someone along the way gave me some excellent advice — they said to make decisions based on the cons.  Everything that seems good to you should have a long list of pros.  But everything in life has cons.  Making a decision based on which cons you can live with is a solid piece of advice!
  5. CommunityWhen you’re in your process (not after!), ask some friends, confidants, and/or mentors to help you.  You’re not asking them to make the decision for you but instead you’re asking them to talk to you about how they make decisions and to help you see any red flags that you may have missed.
  6. Prayer: If you’re a person of faith (or even if you’re not!), pray and invite others to pray for you.  God may choose to reveal to you which option in your decision is good and which is great.  Either way, connecting with God during a time in which a difficult decision needs to be made will deepen your relationship with him.

How do you make decisions?  How do you decide between the good and the great?  Let me know in the comments below!