Decision Making Strategy

Excerpted from The Power of Persuasion:  How We’re Bought and Sold by Robert V. Levine, ©2003:

You might try an eight-step decision-making strategy developed by cognitive psychologists known by the acronym of PROACT (problem, objectives, alternatives, consequences, and trade-offs):

      • Clearly define your problem. What is it you’re trying to decide? Be sure you’re addressing what’s actually the significant problem.
      • Specify your objectives. Think through where you want this decision to take you.
      • Force yourself to consider alternative courses of action. If there weren’t alternatives, you wouldn’t be making a decision. Be imaginative here.
      • Evaluate the consequences of all possible decisions. How effectively will each alternative satisfy your objectives?
      • What are the trade-offs of each course of action? List the pros and cons of potential choices. Articulate your priorities and see which choice strikes the best balance.
      • Address uncertainties. What could happen in the future, how likely is it to occur, and how will it effect your decision?
      • What is your risk tolerance? Which alternative offers the right level of risk for you?
      • Plan ahead. How may this decision affect other decisions you make in the future? Recognize that any important decision is going to alter the nature of other decisions you make later. Try to predict the long-term sequence that any choice will set in motion.

There are no guarantees these eight steps will keep you from being duped. After all, there’s a certain degree of risk in any decision. But if you follow this approach, or perhaps develop a systematic alternative that is more suited to your temperament and needs, there’s less chance you’ll make a serious error.


It’s not easy sometimes to think through problems in a structured way. I think this gives a nice framework to start with.

But you can still follow your heart, if you want to.

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