Monday, May 22, 2017

Making Decisions

To get through life there are always decisions to make. Sometimes I really just want to throw up my hands so that I do not have any decisions to make, especially the tough ones that require analytical skills. Everyone can make bad decisions, yet there seems to me that there are some people who are more capable of making better decisions than others. As I began to pay more attention, I was better able to learn the reasons for this.

First of all, they do not let their own emotions and immediate gut instincts take over before they make their decisions. Discounting the urgency or complexity of their decision, they put the call out for their analytical skills to step in and take charge.

There is a way to teach about analytical skills and it can be learned. It can't be learned in a "sit and get" sort of way. It must be learned by doing and practicing over and over and over again. It involves being able to visualize the problem and what the different outcomes of your decision may encompass. To me it is like predicting the possibilities of the outcomes of your decision. Sometimes for me this requires a detailed list or a chart drawing. I am well aware that I am a visual learner and I think that most analytical thinkers are visual learners.

Thinking outside the box is always good, in my opinion, however, thinking critically requires measuring the consistency in creating reasonable decisions. This may include a bit of outside the box thinking, as long as it is solving the problem reasonably. Throw out the emotions and get down to brass tacks. 

I like to think that through my research on making specific decisions is what helps to guide me through the most cost effective solutions, that are reasonable, yet solve the problem. Solving the problem in a timely fashion means managing my time wisely and sticking to what is at hand.

There may be a time line for my decision so it is of utmost importance for me to gather as many resources as possible to get the information that I need in order to make an intelligent analytical decision. This is not for the weak of heart. This is not a time to throw up a coin and say heads or tails. Wouldn't that be so much easier? 

Just so you know, in our home currently, there are several issues that my husband and I are dealing with that must have some brilliant analytical thinking skills being used in order to come out ahead. We all have been there/done that. Let's just say that two of the decisions are based on what we are having done to our home. Take out the emotions and we are going with research and what will be wise decisions in the long run for resale when that time arrives. What seems to happen is that we make the decision based on all of the knowledge that we can gather, only then to learn that another decision must be made based on the former decision.

Let me give you an example. We made the decision to winterize our pool this year. This is so when the blanket that we had put on in previous years is removed, we do not have "the black lagoon." However, that is exactly what we had. Plus we had high levels of nitrate, which meant draining the pool. In draining the pool, they could tell if the liner was in good shape. Then comes the part that gets tricky. When we all saw the shape of the liner, we knew it definitely needed to be replaced. It apparently lasted longer than most. Except now, they discovered that our pool is out of code from when it was built. We had to have two drains and not just one. 

Still, we have not had to make a decision, as these are just facts and no choices given; except one. Do we just cover up the hole and not have a pool anymore? Or do we suck it up, have another drain put in, then a new liner, which means a big cost? My husband handled this one better than I did. Deep breathing helped. Working without my emotions getting in the way also helped. The bottom line cost is what was slowing me down and this is where research, computing, visualizing, and critical thinking all worked together to help me solve my issues on the pool so that I could talk rationally with my husband about what decision we wanted to go with.

This would not have been so tough for us except that we also had to make a decision about exterior work on the house, as well as new insulation being blown into the attics, which led to attic storage items being covered in dust. Then having air conditioner units being checked for damage to the filters due to the dust. We were told that we could do this ourselves. Yes, yes for sure, Steve and I are air conditioner specialists. So the decision here is do we take the chance on damage and then more costs on down the road for new air conditioner units or just suck it up? And the beat goes on... 

Another major decision is healthcare as Steve retires and must jump through hoops of fire in order to try to find the best solutions to have all of us covered effectively. (I warned you that there may be some computing involved!) One would think that when a long time veteran employee retires from a major company of the world, that someone would be in human resources that could help guide you through healthcare and pensions , etc. At the very least, give you information of who you call or informative pamphlets that may help guide you in the right direction? We were left swimming on our own. Research, research, research! 

Luckily, we had time.  Remember, I did say in the beginning of this blog that we must use our analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity. It may mean that you have to readjust your timeline and work harder on time management.

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