Some of you might be really surprised to learn that I turned down the full-time job and to be honest, I was a bit surprised too. After learning the full-time faculty position I was offered would require less travel and more flexibility, I thought it would be a great option. But after “working” the decision-making process today, that was not the case. Stay tuned and you will see what happened.
Note: This is a longer post because it includes the results, comparisons, and explanations of my best option (along with a few charts!). Thanks for hanging in there and reading! (It didn’t make sense to make this two posts…)
If you have followed the last few posts, the decision question I am working on is – “What is the best way for us to generate $3000 month?” I developed a list of ranked goals and also came up with options that would address the decision question. The options included a full-time faculty position, a part-time online teaching/consulting job, some other type of employment, or no employment at all (using savings/investment/rental income). Combining some of the options would also be a possibility if that would solve the dilemma.
Here are the links to the posts in order in case you missed them:
Now it is time for Step 4 in the process – Creating the Results Table. Look at how the table is set up with the ranked goals on the side. Each goal is labeled – EI (extremely important), VI (very important), I (important), and SI (somewhat important). The possible options are listed across the top. In my doctoral program, we focused on qualitative decision-making. This is a qualitative example that uses words to describe how each option meets my goals.
Step 5 – Now we will use the Results Table to Compare the Options.
1) Look across the rows to see if any goal is met equally by ALL of the options. If this happened, cross out that goal and row of results. This will not help you narrow down your options. (This didn’t happen in my dilemma.)
2) Review the extremely important goal(s) that you identified. Are there any options that are unlikely to meet these goals? If so, you should remove this option from consideration since it doesn’t meet what you determined to be most important. (This didn’t happen in my dilemma either.)
3) Now choose two options (columns) and compare them from top to bottom. Does one clearly “beat out” the other in terms of the meeting your highest ranked goals? If so, remove the “losing” option from consideration. If they are similar in terms of meeting goals, keep both options “in the mix”. In this example – I chose to first compare No Employment with Other Employment. No Employment “ties” or “wins” for each goal, so Other Employment is removed from consideration.
4) Continue this process (comparing two options at a time) until you have options that appear to “tie” or until the best option is clear. When comparing Full-time vs. Part-time Online/Consulting – they “tie” on the Extremely Important goals but Part-time “wins” on the rest of the goals. Full-time should then be removed from consideration. This was clear for me to see, but I had “blinders” on when I was thinking about the job! When comparing Part-time Online/Consulting with No Employment – it is much closer (although No Employment appears to “win”). Because they are much more similar than the other two, I would consider it a “tie” at this point and review the trade-offs for choosing either option.
5) For “ties” – determine the tradeoffs you will need to make if you end up choosing that option. If the tradeoffs for one option are more appealing than the tradeoffs for the other, remove the lesser option from consideration. In my situation, choosing No Employment will likely bring stress from having to start spending down investment and savings accounts when I have never done that before. Since I am “FI” – that shouldn’t be a problem, but I know it will create stress which will then affect my health. If I choose Part-Time Online teaching/consulting, I will still have some meetings and some days I need to attend workshops which is a tradeoff for earning some money rather than using just the investments and savings.
Step 6 – Determine the Best Option. Use the information you have generated to determine the option. Reflect on your goals, the tradeoffs, and seek blindspots that may be biasing your thoughts. With more work, you will likely determine one option is “better” than the other(s). You will likely be satisfied with this decision (even if it is not “perfect”) because of the process you used
For me, a compromise of “Part-time” but only online teaching (which does require some online meetings where I work) would allow for a small income to help with the stress, while still allowing the most flexible “location independent” schedule. This addresses my goals and answers the decision question.
What became very clear to me through this process was my ultimate option would be working for myself online. This would allow me to choose my own schedule and not be employed by others. I would be generating an income to help with the stress, but I would be in control. This is something I need to consider seriously as I move forward…
It may seem like a tremendous amount of work, data review and reflection to get to this point – and it is a lot of work! SMART DECISIONS REQUIRE WORK, NOT LUCK. I reviewed the decision question, my goals (and the ranking of those goals), the options I generated and the results I determined a number of times. I don’t take turning down a full-time job lightly – especially when I really enjoyed the work!
I also could have gone in and “changed” some of my goals and the results to make it “look like” one option was better than another. If you already know what you want to do – don’t bother with a process like this if you are not going to be honest with yourself. REMEMBER – this process is simply to give you more information, YOU ALWAYS MAKE THE FINAL DECISION and what comes up as “best” in the chart may not be what you ultimately choose.
Now – for you “quantitative” or numbers folks, I went on and did more research to try to meet your needs too! I went back to Hammond, Keeney, & Raiffa’s book – Smart Choices and they did include a way to use numbers to show the results. I did not see them weighting the goals though – but I will re-read the book soon. Weighting was suggested by Jon, a reader on Financial Samurai’s site, so I worked to combine the two ideas below because it made so much sense. We use a weighting system on rubrics to grade essays and projects, so the system below made sense to me. You may have a better idea of how to do this and I will continue looking for ideas like this as well! Please share any thoughts as we can all learn from each other!
Here are the same results from above described “quantitatively” with numbers to show how each option meets my goals.
Key for Goals
4= Extremely Important
3= Very Important
1= Somewhat Important
Key for Results
4= Highly Likely
2= Somewhat Likely
*Multiply the goal “score” by the results “score”. (I have shown the product of this multiplication in parentheses in each box). Then add up the total for the column. Higher scores are likely the better options to answer your decision question based on the keys used here.
Many of you may prefer this version because it lacks all the “clutter” of the words. The highest scores “wins” and you are done – right? Well, you should notice that No Employment and Part-time Online/Consulting have much higher scores than the other two options. But the scores are close enough (as they were in the first chart) that I would review both options again. There may be important trade-offs to consider or in my case, a combination of two options actually proved to answer my needs best. You should also think back to the “blindspots” that you may not have considered before. A quick choice of the highest score may not be the best option. (*I am also revising this “Quantitative Method” as I begin to use it. This is new to me and may need some adjustments.)
But keep in mind, the words do matter and also give you clarity when you start having questions about the results. You “numbers” folks may get stuck using just the numbers because the “story” in the words is missing.
The following table combines both charts above into a “mixed methods” results table (words and numbers!). This may meet the needs of those who want to see all of the information together.
This chart really helped me to make the final decision because it is the most complete view of my situation. The numbers in the 2nd chart (quantitative) didn’t tell the whole “story”, but the words in 1st chart (qualitative) didn’t show me the magnitude of difference between the options that well.
After careful reflection of the results (OK – some obsessing too!), this combined chart really helped bring a clarity I have not seen before when using this process. I will likely use this type of chart as I moveforward and make more decisions.
Overall – the process may look overwhelming, but I think some practice will really make it much easier to work with. I am going to write more posts using different topics in the near future and I think I will use all three approaches (words, numbers, and both together) to see how they affect the results.
If you have a topic you would like me to post on, please let me know. I am thinking about writing next about choosing a college (since we are doing that this summer too) and buying a vacation property (which we did a few years ago). But I’d be happy to consider other ideas too!
WOW – thanks for sticking with me to the end! I am learning a great deal as I write and that was one of my main goals with starting this blog. As Sam has said over at www.financialsamurai.com – writing is a deliberate act and it requires deep thinking. This took some deep thought to write out (and may require some more editing too!)
We can all learn from one another and I will make changes and mistakes along the way. As much as I know about decision-making, I can always learn more as I read and make more decisions! Please remember that I am just offering a tool and my own experiences for something to think about. Your decisions are always your choice! Empower yourself to make smarter decisions!
Time to go and empty my office… not something I had planned on this week!