Difficult Decision to Make?
Try Ben Franklin's Method
When we have to choose among too many options, or the options appear so similar that it becomes difficult to justify choosing one option over the other(s), we need a way to make the best choice.
This is typically the case with life-altering decisions such as choosing which job offer to accept, buying a new home, ending a relationship, or other major decisions.
More than two centuries ago, Ben Franklin created a simple tool to assist in difficult decision making by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the options or choices.
Sometimes the strengths and weaknesses of one choice vs. the other are so similar that it is still nearly impossible to identify the best choice. Franklin recognized that two choices, which have the same number of Pros and Cons might not be equally good choices. Why not? Because some of the Pros or Cons might be more important than others. To compensate for this, Franklin assigned a weight or relative importance to each factor.
“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure.
When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
Example: Whether to buy a townhouse in a redeveloped historic district in the city or to buy a 150-year-old, recently remodeled farmhouse on 8 acres of land 20 miles out of town.