Late Midweek Mini Munchies: Smart Choices


We all have to make complex decisions at some point in our lives. Whether it’s deciding between jobs or schools, we all are faced with difficult decisions that don’t seem to have correct answers. Many in the Christian world begin to step into an area of non-decision. If the door is open I’ll walk through it, if the door is closed I won’t. The problem with this approach is its avoidance of decision making.

If I apply to two schools and only one gives me a scholarship that is obviously the one I should be going to. But was that decision really the best choice?

I would never have picked up this book if I had just seen it on the shelf. Instantly, I would have assumed it was one of those silly self-help books with 10 simple steps to better blah blah. Fortunately, it was a requirement for my class Decision Analysis and from day one I fell in love with this book.

It’s approach, while still very simple, is thoroughly researched and intellectually spot on. When facing complex problems Smart Choices helps to prepare and execute the smartest choice, or really the best possible choice. Though a smart choice in the end might be a bad choice (you move and the job doesn’t work out) this book sets out to make an effective decision.

The model is called PrOACT URL. It doesn’t entirely make sense as an acronym, but the process itself works. First you identify your Problem, the Objectives you want to accomplish, Alternatives you have/can create, Consequences of each alternative, and the Trade-offs you would face by making one decision as opposed to another. URL is the second piece which helps you to identify your Uncertainties,  Risks, and Linked decisions. Though I won’t go through every piece, there are a few that were big revelations for me.

Figuring out your problem and objectives is the biggest piece of the entire process and I don’t think I realized this. If we don’t have the right problem we can’t make a smart choice. Is the problem: which college should I go to? Or what would be the best choice for getting a job as a police officer? Maybe more school isn’t the right answer. Identifying your problem and your objectives helps you set up for the best possible decision making experience.

The other, that for me had a big impact, was trade-offs. Figuring out if I make this decision what do I lose or give up. For example, if you go to school you lose 4 to 5 years of full-time income you could be making. However, if you don’t go to school you have a less likely chance to make a higher salary.

This book has become my favorite textbook of my Eller career and now has a permanent place on my book shelf. I hope, if you want to make smart choices, you pick up this book.


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