How to make clear decisions with the Pro-Con Tool

Sometimes decisions can be difficult. We feel stuck between our options, or we might not know what we want, or we feel overwhelmed with the task of choosing. All of this can add to our stress and make our situation(s) more difficult to handle.

This is where the Pro-Con Tool comes in. It’s a tool that can help clarify what is important to you and help you reach a satisfactory choice when it comes to making a decision.

In the image above, you’ll see a square divided in to four equal sections, with the left column labeled “Pros” and the right column labeled “Cons.” To the left, each row has a space to add the ideas or decisions you’re trying to compare. Here’s how to use the tool:

  1. Write in the two ideas or options you’re comparing in the two lines on the left. (If you’re comparing more than two ideas or options, you can simply add a row beneath.)
  2. For each idea or option, write a “pro” in its respective pro box and a “con” in its respective con box. Don’t worry if some of the answers in different boxes address the same idea, just answer as fully and genuinely as you can.

Once you’ve finished your list, it’s time to analyze the results.

Take a look at each point you wrote out and assign it a positive or negative value according to how important it is to you. Use positive values for your pro list and negative items for your cons list. For example, an item in your pros list that is very important to you might be weighted (+5) and an item in your cons list that is very important to you would be weighted (-5).

Time for some quick math. Add up the values in each of the four boxes. Your pro boxes should have positive numbers and your cons boxes should have negative numbers. Now you can compare your two ideas more rationally:

  • Does Going to a social event have more pros with a higher rating than Staying home and eating ice cream?
  • Does Staying home and eating ice cream have more cons with a higher rating than Going to a social event?
  • Or you might notice, "Wow, it looks like I really value the pros that would come from Going to a social event over the pros I have for Staying home and eating ice cream."

What if your numbers are tied? You might consider taking another look at your list or asking someone to help you analyze your list a bit further.

There’s also a chance you feel uncertain about your scores. Maybe there’s an outcome you preferred that didn’t end up as your “logical” choice. It could be that your gut is telling you something—you already know which choice you want to make, even if it isn’t the “best” on paper. Remember, this tool is simply a tool. You always have the ability to choose what feels right to you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *