Decision Making (And a Give-Away!)

I suffer from analysis paralysis. Or I make rash decisions. I do both. In unequal amounts. And there is no pattern. I also like to remake decisions that cannot be remade, hypothesizing the different outcomes.

Take for example our most recent home purchase.

THREE years ago.

I still talk about the other house as if we have the chance to move in there any day we like. I talk about the neighborhood. What my furniture would be like. What our neighbors would be like. The skylights in the kitchen. I rehash that decision like I have control in the matter. It’s done. It’s been done for YEARS. And yet …

I think it’s because I’m not comfortable with how we came to our decision. Peter points out repeatedly that you make the best decision you can with the information you have and that’s that. Remaking the decision isn’t worth anything because you always have more information now than you did then. He’s right. I know he’s right.

When I was offered Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 book, I jumped at the chance to gain some control over my decision making. Or at least some insight as to how sane people act.

You might know 10-10-10 from O magazine. And in case you don’t know Suzy Welch, her husband formerly ran a small little enterprise you might have heard of: they bring good things to life. (Aside: you could not attend business school in the 90s without reading a case study about Jack Welch and GE. I read so many I felt like I had worked there for years.)

Once I put Suzy Welch together with Jack Welch I recalled the turmoil that surrounded their getting together. I wondered, as I read, how was she going to handle that part of her life? She was using so many personal stories would she mention it, would she gloss over it? She addressed the matter head-on without delving too deeply – I respect her for that. If she had just glossed over a very sensational part of her life I am not sure I would have been able to continue the book. Without addressing it I think she would have seemed very Pollyanna. Who takes advice from Pollyanna?

Her book arrived at a time I was trying to make a decision about the kids’ preschool situation. Elliot is headed to Kindergarten in the Fall and will attend after school care at his school. Audrey still has another year of preschool before she enters the public school system.  Should I move Audrey to another school for only one year? I decided to apply Suzy’s 10-10-10 technique to my decision. Each 10 represents a time period: the immediate future, the near future and the distant future. It could be 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years or it could be 1 day, 5 months and 3 years. Each situation will have its own time constraints.

In the immediate future it would be hard to move Audrey to a new school. She’d miss her friends and some of her teachers. She has the routine at that school down.

Jumping forward to  the far distant future, it wouldn’t matter if I had moved her or not. By then she would have experienced so many changes that what happened at 3 1/2 would have been a blip on the screen.

But that middle 10, the next six to ten months … that would be the killer. If I left her at the current preschool she would advance into the classroom that Elliot is now. Into the classroom where I have weekly conversations with the director about my concerns. Into a classroom where I’m not thrilled with the teaching techniques nor the diligence. Into a classroom that I’m not convinced Audrey would thrive in.

It became very clear. And my decision was much more reasonable. It wasn’t a snap judgment based on one bad day at school. And it’s not a decision I will remake and remake, because I know why I made the choice I did.

Audrey will change preschools.

Then another question popped up … should I move them for the summer? I had enough additional incidents that it seemed worth considering. But now it’s not just Audrey. It’s Audrey and Elliot. He’s already changing schools in August. Did I want to move him twice?

I employed 10-10-10 again. But this time I asked Elliot for additional information. Was he interested in changing schools? I gauged his reaction to the idea and we moved forward. The choice was made a lot easier because I had more information and a methods to sort through it. There was a lot of “I feel” and “I think” but not in the crazy ranting sort of way.

We decided to move the kids to the new preschool starting June 1. Elliot will change schools twice in the next four months. He’s completely nonplussed. I’m comfortable with the decision because I looked at it rationally and then I made a choice. I’m sure that without 10-10-10 I would have come to the same decision. I am also sure I have been remaking the decision every week this summer. With 10-10-10 I applied logic to the problem. I’m at peace with the decision because it was thoughtful, not knee-jerk.

That house we didn’t buy? It was cute! It had turn dial light switches a la 1950. And pocket doors. And the tile in the bathrooms was original pink (upstairs bath) and canary yellow (downstairs bath). But the roof was falling in. And the demographics of the neighborhood were older folks how had long ago sent their kids out into the world; our kids wouldn’t have had playmates. From a community perspective, we would have been lonely. This location is a much better choice for our family.

But I would have had lovely retro bathrooms in the other house.


Do you want some insight into how other people make decisions? Leave me a comment before April 30 and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win my copy of 10-10-10.

6 smart people left their mark:

  1. pamela, 23. April 2009, 12:27

    sweet. a way to make decisions. i could use it.

    pamelas last blog post..i’m losing followers, guess it’s time to post.

  2. melissaz, 23. April 2009, 12:37

    that is really cool. I hadn’t heard of that before. Sign me up!

    Oh, and if you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, try here:

    melissazs last blog post..Progress Report

  3. Tracie, 23. April 2009, 13:12

    I try to use logic, maybe a modified version of the 10-10-10 model. But I also know that there are moments when I make a decision based on emotion. I almost never regret a decision…but on the rare occassion that I do regret the decision is the the most locial driven decisions that I wish could be changed.

    Tracies last blog post..How about this?

  4. Lynn, 24. April 2009, 20:49

    My hardest decision is always around the kids school. I have learned to listen to my gut instinct, mothers instinct, what have you. Each time, I ended up in such a better school, it’s validated that “feeling” I have when something just isn’t right.

    Without knowing the 10-10-10 rule, we made a decision on whether to buy a condo in Houston.
    10weeks: would save us money and nathan would have his own place.
    5 years: Nathan might not work in houston and we’d have to get a property management company to look after it.
    20 years: We might own a condo in the one city they say you should buy real estate in . Perhaps our 70K investment would be worth 150K by then.

    Decided the pain of owning something we aren’t close too outweighed the possibility it would double in worth in 20 years. We probably would have spent that profit on property management.

    Lynns last blog post..Eco-friendly Lunches

  5. Abbey, 26. April 2009, 20:54

    I’m probably the worst at making decisions. I’m always the person who wonders what could have been…

    But my other problem is that I tend to make choices with my heart and NEVER my head. I rarely, rarely use facts. Sad, but true.

    Abbeys last blog post..J. Peterman…How Could I Have Forgotten About You?

  6. lee, 27. April 2009, 20:10

    i need help in making decisions. flipping a coin doesn’t always yield the correct answer!

    thanks for hosting the giveaway!

    lees last blog & mom