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How do I resolve a dilemma?

A dilemma – where you have to make a choice between two viable options – can be frustrating.

Often, people will debate the two options by creating a list of pros and cons. If that doesn’t make an easy resolution, the debate will continue, trying to find more reasons to choose one option or the other.

But this process won’t necessarily lead to a satisfying choice because satisfaction is a feeling and weighing pros and cons is all about analysis and logic.

Logic won’t provide you with the most satisfying solution; it provides you with the logical solution. There’s nothing wrong with logic of course, but if you want to feel good about the result, it might not be the right approach.

Also, debate and analysis can be exhausting, using up brain power that could be used for something else.

Here’s what you can do instead

First, give yourself a period of time to consider one option fully. Let’s say you give yourself a week. For this week, choose one of the options. Decide this is the one. Then live with that decision.
Make sure that you completely let go of the debate and the question. Because it’s often the questioning between the two that makes things hard. In this experiment, you need to completely let go of doubt and questioning.

Notice how you feel with this one option. What do you like about it?  What don’t you like? What’s inspiring or disappointing?  If possible, invite family, friends or colleagues into this decision with you – also keeping them out of the pros/cons and analysis. Take some notes about your feelings at the end of the test period.

Then choose the other option for the same amount of time. For this second week (or day or…), live as if the second option is the right choice. Again, notice how you feel about it – what do you like or dislike? What inspires or disappoints? Again, invite others into the choice with you and take notes at the end of this test period.

After this experiment, you will have new and different information that might point to a clear decision.

Or make it random

If both choices seem equally viable – logically and emotionally and you still can’t decide, then just flip a coin and go with whatever choice the coin indicates. Then stop thinking about it.

Or change the dilemma

Sometimes, the fact that we must choose between THIS or THAT – two and only two options, leads to a stalemate.

Another way to move to resolution is to find a third option. This could be a midpoint between the two or it could be something completely different. Often when there’s a third choice, it completely changes the decision-making process and makes it easier to decide.

Trust your choice

Once you do make a choice, stop questioning yourself. “Should I have chosen the other one?” will only keep you doubting and it will stress you out.

Make a choice. Then trust yourself and stop questioning. Use your brainpower for something else – like making the best of the clear choice you made.

Coaches Going Corporate

This approach to problem solving is great tool to use in coaching. To learn other tips and tools for coaching analytical people, check out Coaches Going Corporate

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