Have you found yourself at a crossroads and you aren’t sure which direction to go? It can be challenging and scary to make major life decisions. We’ve got steps to help aid your decision making and an example to walk you through. Keep in mind, that not making a decision, is a decision.
For those that just want the steps, here they are right up front!
1. Identify and define a key obstacle, challenge, or decision.
2. How does this problem prevent reaching your vision?
3. Drilldown to five levels of why in order to determine what the root cause of the issue may be versus what may be a symptom. How do each of these levels prevent you from achieving your goal?
4. What is the worst case scenario of not reaching this goal or solving this problem? What is the best case scenario?
5. Pick a path. Develop concrete steps to take, with a timeline to address this problem.
6. Set a date to evaluate your progress. Create an accountability and control plan which sets deadlines and key performance indicators for evaluation of effectiveness of the solution. Adjust your plan as necessary to address those proposed solutions that did not work, recycling through all the steps.
Kat Von Starr is a senior at an accounting firm that has had quite a bit of attrition over the last year. She is the last senior standing in the tax department, with quite a few new, inexperienced staff. The climate at the firm is one of cautious optimism and there could be opportunity for advancement.
Kat has also be feeling out new opportunities in the accounting world and has received an offer in private industry, working as senior accountant/assistant controller for a growing company in beauty industry, but the pay offered is slightly less than her current role.
What should Kat do?
Step 1 Identify and define a key obstacle, challenge, or decision.
Example: To accept a new job offer or stay focused on current career path
Step 2 How does this problem prevent reaching your vision?
Example: If her ultimate career goal is to build a practice catering to fashion and beauty industry clients, how will staying your old job or moving to your new job impact your ability to move closer to that goal? What if she didn’t know her ultimate goal?
Step 3 Drill down to five levels of why in order to determine what the root cause of the issue may be, versus what may be a symptom. How do each of these levels prevent you from achieving your goal?
Example: Ask yourself “why” at least five times - Why is Kat looking for new opportunities? Why should she stay? Why should she leave? Why would staying help her reach her goals? Why would she feel trapped in her current role? Why would the new role contribute to her vision? Why would Kat feel unstable in her current role or her new role?
The answers all lead to a variety of decision paths. It depends on what the real problem is, what the best answer will be. Is Kat’s concern that the firm will close, that she will be overworked, overwhelmed, or not able to focus on the kind of work she would like to do? Will she be promoted since she has the most experience? Will the new job be more of the same situation currently, is there opportunity to learn an industry, get promoted, earn more money? Will the new company fold?
Each of these questions and answers leads to the root issue. If Kat’s primary concern is stability then her decision may different than if the primary concern is growth and experience in a niche field.
Step 4 What is the worst case scenario of not reaching this goal or solving this problem? What is the best case scenario? Pay close attention to your mindset when envisioning each of your choices and scenarios. One way to test how your gut feels is to assign a decision to head or tails on a coin and flip it. What do you wish it landed on? That can tell you which way you are leaning.
Example: Imagine the best and worst case scenarios of each choice.
Stay: Miserable, more work/same pay, firm closes, OR
Stay: Promotion, firm rebuilds, new/interesting work
Leave: Less pay, unknown environment, same work OR
Leave: Interesting work, opportunity to learn, defined scope of work
Step 5 Make a decision. Develop concrete steps to take, with a timeline to address this problem. Set a date to evaluate progress.
Example: Accept or decline the offer.
Determine how to move forward - submit resignation/ reply to hiring official
Prepare for upcoming activities - transition current work, coordinate new job activities or discuss with current firm what the future holds
Set a date to check in and see if her plan needs to be updated
Step 6 Create an accountability and control plan which sets deadlines and key performance indicators for evaluation of effectiveness of the solution. Adjust your plan as necessary to address those proposed solutions that did not work.
Example: What criteria would Kat use to determine if her decision was success? Job satisfaction, opportunities, income? How long should Kat wait to evaluate her progress? What could Kat do if the initial decision ending up being unsatisfactory?
All About Choice
We are all free to make whatever decisions we want to make. What we are not free of is the consequences of our decisions. Good or bad, there are consequences to every choice we make. How we respond to good fortune or trials and tribulations leads us to success or failure.
What decision are you struggling with today? Which of these steps will be the most helpful in your decision making process?
We want to hear what you want for your future and your decision making challenges. Get you started on your path as an Entrepreneurial CPA and to creating opportunity from challenges. Click here to book a time to chat with one of our Entrepreneurial CPAs.
Erin Kidd is an Enrolled Agent, Accredited Financial Counselor ®, and has her Master’s Degree in Business Administration. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. She’d love to connect to talk about financial literacy, taxes, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and stuff that makes us laugh!