The Eisenhower Matrix is a very popular decision making tool that helps us classify tasks between importance and urgency. Forcing us to make explicit the trade off between doing something that seems urgent versus things that are important. What should we do first? It does provide us with some direction once we classify each task we are facing.
Admittedly, we don’t spend our days writing down everything we do and then putting them into this matrix. Too much work for our fast moving lives.
There are less obvious but equally powerful trade offs that we sometimes consider on a more informal or subconscious basis. Not looking for them at all when we are in a hurry. Making trade offs more explicit before making an important decision can be very helpful in making less mistakes over a lifetime. Here are few to consider:
Cost vs Need
Effort vs Impact
Time Frame (Delay or Immediate) vs Our Finances
Uncertainty or Fear vs Social Feedback or Criticism
Taking Action vs Our Fear of Failure
Level of Confidence vs Impact Desired
Level of Need for Acceptance vs. Importance of an Individual Decision
Immediacy or Pleasure vs Our Values
Yes, there is usually more than one possible trade off around any significant decision. And important to understand. I am sure you could add to this list.
Our rush to make important decisions without considering trade offs, pushes us away from the power of making trade offs more explicit in our decision process. Misjudging which ones are important in the context of what we are deciding is very damaging. Leading us to much poorer outcomes in our life. Thinking about what trade offs are necessary to consider before making an important decision can help improve our thinking. Keeping us from forgetting or ignoring things that should be considered.
Understanding that trade offs exist helps us better understand that our choices will never be perfect. Our hope is that they are directionally aligned with our circumstances & life’s dreams . Helping explain why there will always be surprises along our life’s journey where we undervalued certain trade offs that in the end were much more important. Making the one’s we over-valued, traps we could not escape from.