6 Steps for Making Tough Decisions

Julian Schratter By Ryan Abel [Photo by Ryan Abel] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Often we reach a crossroads in our life – whether in our personal or professional life. A passionate entrepreneur recently got in touch with me asking for help in making a tough decision in his life and how this will impact him with his business management. What are the 6 steps for making tough decisions that I shared?

Asking For Help is Sometimes a Good Start

A young social entrepreneur from the United States recently got in contact with me, asking about a major decision that was troubling him. He was having difficulty figuring out what was the best way to get experience and learn social entrepreneurship.

He’s an intelligent guy and very driven. He’s already studied formal entreprenuership courses and has already hlped to start up a nonprofit that works between the United States and Latin America. I would say he actually knows and has DONE more than alot of other people already.

What was bother him though, was that he wanted to make the most of his summer break. How can he make the most of his time in order to get ahead in his social entrepreneurial career?

A Process for Decision-Making?

I don’t want to get into the specifics with what we spoke about out of respect for him. Although, what I did share with him that I think should also be shared with you is the thinking process that I regularly use for making those big, hairy decisions that often rack your brain, and keep you up at night.

I actually first learnt this decision-making process from Tony Robbins’ time management program called “The Time of Your Life.” So credit does go to him. This is my interpretation of it and how I use it to make decision, and here are the steps:


Figure out what is your overall outcome in all this. What is is that you ultimately want? experience? networks? impact? Prioritise your outcomes.


Figure out what are your options so far. Write them down


Think about the likely conseuqences of your options(both +ve and negative consequences)


Eliminate the options which totally go against your outcomes. Eliminate the options until you have about 2 or 3 top options left


From your final options, try and mitigate the best option so that you can somehow include ALL your outcomes in your best option. What can you add to your best option so that it can be even more awesome to reach your ultimate outcomes?


Resolve on your final decision and take action

Using a pen and paper can help as you go through these steps. This decision-making process can be used for making hard decisions in your personal and professional life as I have done so many times.

For Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Stuck!

a dilemma [Photo by Julia Manzerova] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For those of you who are making hard decisions about how to move forward with learning and applying social entrepreneurship , I would advise this – Overall, I would personally try and get in close contact with a successful social entrepreneur to work under their wing. The closer you can work with them the better.

I would also suggest a social entrepreneur/organization closely aligned to what you want to work in for the future. This is the only way you will retain a positive business management strategy. If you can’t do this, try and read as much as you can as possible about social entrepreneurs and start ups that have changed the world. It can be both inspiring and eye-opening, and your perspective about what is possible will often be changed dramatically by learning from role models.