Breaking Down the Life Coaching Decision Making Model

Indecision is often worse than wrong decision. – Henry Ford

This article is part of a series of five articles that walk you through various questioning methods and models typically used for life coaching purposes. However, these questions can also be used for self-coaching purposes to help you gather more insights about your life, problems, and circumstances.

Here is a list of all articles included in this series:

How to Cure the Indecision Bug

Have you ever felt stuck and unable to make a decision? You know what I mean, in fact, possibly you’ve even been there. It’s those times when you kind of know what to do, but just can’t quite get yourself to do it because you kind of feel conflicted at the same time.

In this scenario, you might have eventually pushed yourself into making a decision, or NOT. If you didn’t, then you still actually made a decision. You chose not to go through with your decision, which is actually a decision within itself. Or just maybe you kind of forced the decision and now you’re sitting here reading this feeling full of regret. 🙁

We all experience moments in life where making a tough and challenging decision is harder than scraping chewing gum from the bottom of a shoe. 😉 Within these moments of indecision, we wrack our brains with scenarios, with options, with consequences, etc. We try so hard and spend so much time trying to make the right decision that we end up in this limbo state where we just kind of sit on the fence and wonder which side looks greener. 😉

The longer we remain indecisive the more anxious we feel. And then when we’re finally pressured to make a decision we do so emotionally, and that is of course when mistakes are made and we pay the price for playing the “indecision game”. Sometimes it’s the actual delay in making these tough decisions that cost us more than anything else.

All this, of course, doesn’t mean that we should rush our decisions. Rushing decisions might also bring about some seriously negative consequences and some unforgettable regrets.

So if rushing decisions isn’t the answer, and if delaying decisions gets us nowhere, then what’s the solution? The solution is to think through any tough decision using a process of steps. These steps include:

  1. Identifying the decision that must be made.
  2. Conducting research to determine potential outcomes.
  3. Taking into consideration the alternatives and consequences of each decision.
  4. Seeking objective opinions from family and friends.
  5. Committing yourself to making your decision.
  6. Monitoring your progress and results.

When decision-making unfolds as a process of steps we are naturally more inclined to think things through more rationally and carefully. However, mistakes can and will at times be made. No matter how thorough you are in your approach you will end up making some very bad decisions.

The world we know and live in today is actually built upon a series of bad decisions. Each bad decision and mistake that is made is however never wasted, as long as we learn and grow from that experience.

Given this, all the good decisions we ever made as a human species were built upon a history of bad decisions and mistakes that have unfolded over time. We learned from those bad decisions, modified our approach, and as a result, made better future decisions that helped move us forward.

Effective decision-making requires us to be flexible, thorough, mindful and at times courageous. Moreover, it requires a process of steps that can help you think through your decision in an optimal way.

The six step process I listed above is one way to do this. In fact, — whether you’re aware of it or not — a great many life-altering decisions that you have made have probably moved through this series of six steps. Possibly not in exactly this specific order, but surely you conducted some research, considered alternatives, asked family and friends for their opinion, committed to a decision and monitored your progress accordingly.

So even though this process works, we still at times get caught in “indecision mode” due to the fact that we fear to make a mistake. In other words, we fear to make the wrong decision. And it’s this fear that holds us back.

Fear often translates into something that we don’t seem to understand very well. What we are unfamiliar with we naturally tend to fear or at the very least feel a little anxious about. However, once we know more about something and once we understand its very nature, that is when the fear and uncertainty begins to evaporate.

When it comes to curing indecision it’s all about gaining the necessary understanding needed about the issue at hand. And all this comes down to asking yourself a series of questions that progressively help you gain this needed clarity.

Curing Indecision

The Life Coaching Decision Making Model

What follows is a series of questions that life coaches use to help their client gain the necessary insights and clarity they need to make an optimal decision about a problem or dilemma.

These questions are presented here from a life coaching perspective, however, you can very easily adapt and use them for your own purposes to help you gain the necessary insights and clarity you need to make more effective decisions.

The Life Coaching Decision Making Model is designed with a purpose of drawing your client’s attention to key areas that will provide them with an in-depth understanding of their situation, life, and circumstances. This awareness will then help them make the most effective decision moving forward.

I have divided these questions into several categories that can help you to focus on key areas for further exploration and discussion. It’s of course not necessary to ask all of these questions or to work through each category of question. What’s important is that you remain flexible and adapt your questioning approach to the answers your client gives you.

As an introduction to these questions, imagine one of your clients comes to you with a dilemma. They have this tough decision to make and they just don’t quite know what to do or how to begin thinking about this situation. They ask for your assistance to help them make sense of all this. They are seeking your guidance and direction to help provide them with the clarity they need to choose the most optimal path moving forward.

Let’s now spend the remainder of this article breaking down these questions.

Starter Questions

Starter Questions are designed to help you gain an overview of the dilemma your client faces; this, of course, includes the decision that must potentially be made.

It’s important here that you challenge your client to think about their decision in an empowering way. As such there are a few hypothetical questions that will force them to think about their decision and about how it relates back to their lives and circumstances.

One additional area of focus here is to figure out the process your client typically undergoes while making a big life-altering decision. In other words, you want to identify the process of steps they use (like the six-step process listed earlier) to think through their decision. Understanding this process of steps may help you figure out why your client is struggling to make this decision in the first place.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

How do you often make decisions?

How will you make this decision?

What is the significance of this decision?

What factors will make the most difference?

What are your needs, priorities and objectives in this situation?

What would a great decision in this instance look like?

What do you think is the right decision to make here?

What’s available to help you make the very best possible decision in this situation?

What are the implications if you quit or refuse to make a decision about this?

What specifically must be decided right now and not later?

Coaching Questions for Indecision

Questions for Shifting Perspectives

This series of questions challenge your client to view their dilemma/decision from another person’s perspective. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to be someone they know. It can literally be anyone. The key here is to encourage them to view their situation from another angle that they may not have considered before.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

How would [person’s name?] make this decision?

What process of steps would they take to make this decision?

What factors would be of most importance to them?

How would they prioritize things to help them make this decision?

What can you learn from all this and possibly apply to your situation?

Questions for Exploring Consequences

This series of questions challenge your client to consider the consequences of the decision that lays before them.

Typically we refrain from making decisions because we are afraid of what may result. These consequences can often lead to regret, and living with regret isn’t very high on anyone’s priority list. 🙁

By bringing all the possible consequences to light will help your client to make peace with the decision they are wanting to make. There will no longer be an aura of uncertainty surrounding this decision. There will instead be clear indicators of what might result if they choose to take one path over another.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

What are the pros and cons of making this decision?

What are the drawbacks and potential risks of making this decision?

How can you potentially minimize these risks?

How will this decision affect other people?

How will it affect people both positively and negatively?

What decision do you think will benefit most people?

What decision will allow for new options and opportunities?

To make this decision, what will it cost in terms of time and personal resources?

What is the cost if you decide not to go through with this?

What sacrifices might you potentially need to make?

What impact will these sacrifices have on your life and on other people?

How could you build a case against making this decision? Why do you take this view?

Questions that Explore Feelings

This series of questions attempt to get a sense of how your client feels about their dilemma and the potential emotions that are clouding their judgment.

Every decision we make is always influenced by how we are feeling at that particular moment or situation. If we are feeling great about ourselves and about our circumstances then we will tend to favor one decision over another. However, if we aren’t quite feeling so good about ourselves, then that could very well lead us to make a very different kind of decision.

Your client must get a sense of how their emotions are potentially influencing their state-of-mind and thereby shaping how they’re thinking about this situation.

Emotional decisions are often not rational decisions. Only by thinking about their situation rationally will they make the most optimal decision moving forward.

The key here is to separate “emotion” from “feeling”. It’s important that your client doesn’t make an emotional decision, but it’s also equally important that they don’t ignore their underlying feelings that could help guide them through this dilemma.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

Are you experiencing any external pressure from other people?

What impact do these pressures have on you?

What emotions might be influencing how you are seeing this situation?

Is this likely to be a rational or emotional decision?

What fears are at play here?

What are your intuitive feelings telling you to do?

What limiting beliefs are potentially influencing these feelings?

What truth is hidden behind these feelings?

What sensations are you experiencing? What do they mean?

Questions for Looking at Alternatives

This series of questions challenge your client to consider alternative options that they may not have previously thought about.

Exploring alternatives helps your client see other possibilities and choices that might be available.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

Are there any options before you that you may not have yet considered?

Is there a choice here that you hadn’t realized was available?

What alternative options are there that might be of value?

Coaching Questions for Becoming More Decisive

Motivation Questions

This series of questions get to the heart of where your client’s motivations lie. In other words, you are trying to get a sense of what could potentially motivate them to make one decision over another.

Motivation, of course, moves in two directions. We are motivated to move toward certain things, while at the same time we are also motivated to move away from other things. This comes back to the Pain and Pleasure Principle. In fact, every decision we make is influenced by the Pain and Pleasure Principle. Working through how we interpret this pain and pleasure can often alter the course of the decisions we make.

The questions here are designed to challenge your client to think critically about their underlying motivation for making one choice over another. This will hopefully help them to gain the necessary clarity they need to make the best possible choice moving forward.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

What is your underlying motivation to move forward in this direction?

What is your underlying motivation to move forward in that direction?

By making that decision, what are you trying to move away from?

Why are you trying to move away from those things?

By making that decision, what are you trying to move toward?

Why are you trying to move toward those things?

What do you takeaway from all of this?

Future State Questions

This series of questions put your client into a future state-of-mind. In other words, you are challenging them to use hindsight to figure out what the best decision might be moving forward. Hindsight is, of course, one of the three decision-making elements that are part of the 360 Degree Thinking process.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

What if you put this decision on hold? Is there any value in doing this? Will it hurt you in any way?

What will this decision look like in 10 years time? What will be the outcome? Will you have any regrets?

How will making this specific decision shape your life? Are you happy with this outcome?

Coaching Questions for Decision Making

Questions for Exploring Opportunities

This series of questions explores opportunities that may result from making one decision over another. In fact, these questions actually reframe each choice into an opportunity that your client can use to their advantage.

This twist can help put the decision your client wants to make into a different context. Furthermore, it puts a significant positive spin on the choices that lay before them. All this is, of course, helpful because it gets your client into a more receptive and empowered state-of-mind that encourages proactive action.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

How does this particular decision translate into a wonderful opportunity?

What’s exciting about this opportunity?

What makes this opportunity worth pursuing?

What potential concerns do you have about this opportunity?

How will you make sure to take full advantage of this opportunity?

Questions for Taking Decisive Action

The final series of questions is all about helping your client make a concrete decision moving forward.

Having successfully worked through all the previous set of questions, your client should now have a very good understanding of the decision they are about to make. All you are doing here is simply nudging them to make a commitment to make one decision over another.

Ask your client the following set of questions:

What is your gut telling you to do in this situation?

What is your head saying?

What do you personally want to do here? (make sure this is their choice and not a result of somebody else making this choice for them)

What does all your knowledge and experience suggest you do in this situation?

What will you potentially regret doing most?

What will you potentially regret not doing?

What must you commit to doing right here?

What will you decide to do right now?

Concluding Thoughts

Working through the Life Coaching Decision Making Model will no doubt help your client gain a significant amount of clarity about their situation and about what the best course of action might be moving forward. It is, however, important to stress that no choice is free from mistakes, failure, or regret.

There are simply too many variables and possibilities on the horizon. What at times begins as a poor choice turns into a blessing in disguise. Likewise, what seems like a good choice at the time can very quickly turn into our worst nightmare.

Regrets, mistakes, and failure are a part of life — they are a part of having the freedom to make our own choices and decisions. The best we can do is simply learn from these experiences and use them to help us improve our future choices and decisions.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂

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