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How to save Truckloads of Stress & Confusion when making Tough Decisions.

Which school would be best for my son? Should we invest in that new business venture or use the funds to expand our existing business? Hmm…Should I marry the girl my parents are suggesting or elope with my high-school sweetheart?
When presented with such emotional dilemmas, how do you make the best possible choice. You have not gone through this scenario before. You don’t have complete information on the issue.

Using what you know, is there a way to make a choice so that you are dead-confident? So, then you just march forward on the decision you made, with not even a thought of glancing back. Well, you know what…there is such a way, I’ve been using it all the time. And it’s got a geeky name like, ‘the Natural Planning Model’.

What’s this Natural Planning Model thingy?
It’s the genius creation of David Allen of Getting Things Done (GTD) fame. It’s basically a set of questions that you ask yourself when confused about any matter. The key words here are ‘Any Matter’. The Natural Planning Model can be used for an everyday task like going to a restaraunt or even something as deep as what’s your purpose on this planet.  These questions are so apt and when asked in the right frame of mind they truly provide the solution you’re looking for.

And Here it is The Natural Planning Model:

1. PURPOSE:
- Why is this being done?
- This would be great, as long as…what?

2. WILD SUCCESS:
- What would it be like if it were totally successful?

- How would I know?
- What woould success look like for each of the parties with an interest?

3. BRAINSTORMING:
- What are all the things that occur to me about this? What is the current reality? What do I know? What do I not know? What ought I consider? What haven’t I considered? Etc.

4. ORGANIZING
- What needs to happen to make the whole thing happen?

5. NEXT ACTIONS
- What should be done next, and who will do it?

And here it is with an example:
I’ll run through a decision many of us may have struggled with i.e whether to buy a property or not? If we were to buy one, which one? And if we were to invest in one, which one to do so? There are so many choices available. What about the market which way is it headed? What about interest rates? blah blah blah.

What you’ve now got is a doozy of a decision to make and your stress levels have just begun to race Northwards. Let’s run through the Natural Planning model below and then let’s see where we stand.

1. PURPOSE:
- Why is this really being done?
Well there’s this really good offer that I saw in the newspaper today. I’ve not invested yet and it’ high-time I did so. Eventually I would need some home. Some friends are suggesting it. Would be great for my kids. Would need something eventually.

- This would be great, as long as…what?
The family is happy with the property. The builder has a decent reputation. Banks have approved the project. It’s close enough to the city/conveniences. I’d get a minimum 30% appreciation.

2. WILD SUCCESS:
- What would it be like if it were totally successful?
Me and my Family are really excited about the investment and are looking forward to it’s completion. Rates are increasing regularly. Don’t hear any disturbing news about the property.
- How would I know?
We feel like visiting the property often. I may get offers for me to sell it.

3. BRAINSTORMING:
- What are all the things that occur to me about this? What is the current reality? What do I
know? What do I not know? What ought I consider? What haven’t I considered? Etc.
Check legals, Bank rates, check online for opinions, ask around for advice on investing in property itself, ask about the builder and the project, ask elders for advice.

4. ORGANIZING
- What needs to happen to make the whole thing happen?
I’ll have to take some time out from my regular schedule to do have a look at the properties on offer.

5. NEXT ACTIONS
- What should be done next, and who will do it?
Well, my wife can call and take up appointments on weekends for the properties she shortlists. We can then keep ourselves free on weekends to have a look at it.

I hope you got to see that what started out as a complex issue, reeking with anxiety, within moments you are handed on a platter the next concrete actions that need to be taken.
The Two golden rules to make the natural planning model really work:
1. It doesn’t work by reading through the Natural Planning Model running the answers to the questions in your head. It ONLY works when you write those answers down. To quote David Allen,”I don’t care if you write it down on the back of your hand as long as you write it down.” That’s when you’ll see the magic happen.

2. It doesn’t work when you take a hypothetical situation to try it out. Take any matter that’s been bothering you. It’s got to be really bothering you. Not that it’s giving you sleepless nights, as long as you’ve been thinking about it. It could be something like which school to have your child enrolled to, or where to spend the year-end holidays, or whether to go to your inlaws or not. The simpler the matter the easier it is, the more complicated it may take longer, but you’ll arrive at a decision that’ll you’ll feel absolutely confident and excited towards.

A Final tip
I have found that Mindmapping is an even more effective way to use the Natural Planning Model with. But that’s a story for another post. For now have a look at the mindmap I prepared for the above example. I used the excellent mindmapping software Mind Manager for this. Click Here to open the enlarged mindmap in a new window.
Click to open a larger image in a new windo

One Response to “How to save Truckloads of Stress & Confusion when making Tough Decisions.”

  1. Arif says:

    Test Comment. Once upon a time there lived a very smart and intelligent web-surfer who happened to perchance on the Arif & Ali Blog. He was so fascinated, he couldn’t help but leave a comment. ;-)

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