The Best Question to Ask When You Have to Make a Decision

We will all face dilemmas in the course of our lives. That is, we will have moments when we have to (or want to) make a choice between two alternatives, both of which seem to be equally desirable or undesirable.

Or maybe you just want to change a certain aspect of your life but you’re not sure if the costs of said change will be commensurate.

Here are some examples of such situations that clients of mine have faced:

“I would like to work fewer hours, but I’m not sure if I can live with less money.”

I’d love to have a family/partner, but I have to take care of my business.

I’d like to have a relationship, but I don’t want to give up my freedom.

The speakers of these three sentences share one thing: they assume they have to decide. For example, these clients assume that the longer the hours they work, the more money they will earn and vice versa; that either they can take care of their business or they can have a family; or that either they can have a relationship or they can have freedom.

In other words, they assume that time and money, business and family, relationship and freedom are all mutually exclusive.

If they assume that these options are mutually exclusive (one or the other), the next step is usually to start analyzing the pros and cons, weighing them, and eventually deciding. However, in my experience, they usually get stuck and don’t end up changing anything.

In such cases, what I’ve found to be very useful is to ask what I call “the AND question.” Let’s apply it to the examples above:

How can I earn more money AND work fewer hours?”

How can I take care of my business AND have a family?”

How can I have a relationship AND still be free?”

Your gut reaction is probably “that’s impossible,” but I invite you to stay with the question a little longer. Be open. Call up your creativity. Trust that there are ways (there are always ways) that you just don’t see yet. Magically, fresh ideas will start to show up. You’ll be surprised.