EVALUATING THE OPTIONS

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BY GRANDPA, February. 2014

Here is a nice little trick they teach MBA candidates in the best business schools.

I call it

“EVALUATING THE OPTIONS”

You are faced with a problem. Or you have a goal.

There are always many options, or paths.  You can always decide “not to decide.” That means: “Do nothing.” Inertia is strong force.

Some problems do get resolved on their own. However, efficient decision makers seldom sit tight and do nothing – ignoring dangers, opportunities or unfolding facts.

I (Grandpa) feel that is wiser to seek out, explore, and carefully consider available options. Only then make sensible moves. Don’t make any important decisions when you are in any emotional turmoil, or are mad. If you are in emotional or physical pain, want revenge, etc. Breathe deeply, relax, have a good sleep, get rational, and then . . .

Step one:

Recognize, and evaluate your problem/goal on paper. Write it down clearly, concisely and in a sentence or two.

Step Two:

Discover and list all your options. How?

By using common sense, intelligent friends, loved ones, experts, and all possible sources.

[Editor’s Note: Grandpa’s specialty was/is in examining client problems or goals, thinking “outside the box” and identifying options that might have been previously unrecognized or not seriously considered. In his writings, Grandpa’s case histories recount situations that may well apply to your situation. In other cases, merely recognizing and using the process will allow you to make the best possible decisions.]

Step Three:

Write each option one sheet of paper. Draw vertical lines down the middle of the sheet. The positive factors (+) go on one side, and the negative factors (-) go on the other side. Then write down the consequences. What will probably happen with each option? Then give a score or weighting (1 to 10) for each option.

It is always easier to understand instructions like the above with reference to a real situation. Thus, let us look at a real life situation. We hope you will never face an imminent hostile invasion, civil war, or anything as serious as Jack’s  problem.

Case Study of Yugoslavian Jack

A few years before World War Two began, Jack sold his interest in a successful restaurant in California. He moved back to his home town of Belgrade (now Serbia) where he married a much younger local girl. They bought and furnished a beautiful little house and farm land in the outskirts – both intending to stay there and live happily ever after. But this reverie was interrupted by unexpected news. His country (later Yugoslavia) was  attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Jack, as a naturalized American citizen received notice that all Americans and their dependents could board a special chartered passenger ship bound for safe haven in the USA. Jack and wife would be allowed to take with them anything they could carry , i.e. only a couple of suitcases. The move had to be made in a few days. If Jack had used our recommended technique for EVALUATING HIS OPTIONS, his sheets would have looked like this:

Page One

PROBLEM: GERMAN INVASION UNDERWAY.

Obvious Observation: Being in a war zone is dangerous to life and property.

Common sense solution: A) To get away physically, and B) To do damage control by giving local unmovable property to a friend or relative to manage until war over and it was safe to return. Convert local cash, bank accounts and such to gold or other portable stores of value. Take it with to America.

Page Two

Option 1: Stay and See What Happens -a decision not to decide.

Evaluation:

High Risk. The USA would probably get into the war eventually against Germany, and all American Citizens would be interned in Nazi concentration camps. Negative Score -10. Bad result for Jack almost guaranteed.

Option Two: Go Back to California with wife. Get a job and free place to stay with his brothers still in America. Maybe start a new restaurant. Wait out the war in the USA– doubtless a safer place.

“Go Back to California”

Positive score – No risk. No brainer. +10.

The decision to get away from a dangerous war zone should have been clear.

What really happened?

The wife refused to leave.

Jack stayed behind. Why?

In summary, she said:  “I refuse to leave my home, my relatives and all my local friends for an uncertain future in a place where I have no friends and don’t know the language. The Germans may take over here but our life will go on as before. We are civilians; we are not Jews or Gypsies. They will leave us alone. Besides, and most important, we have new dishes, linens and furniture. We can’t just leave all that behind.

[Grandpa’s Note: “Dishes, linens and furniture” score 1

“Life & Liberty -Score 10”

To make a long story short, the war years passed, and Jack and his wife had a very miserable time. They were interned by the Nazis. They nearly starved, but they were very lucky. They survived. After the Germans were defeated, what was left of their property, bank accounts, etc. was confiscated by a new Communist government under Tito. Anyone who has ever contemplated suicide will, after sensibly EVALUATING OPTIONS, will normally just move onwards and away from the problem –be it social ostracism, financial disaster, losing a lover, or not getting a passing grade in Economics. After all, life is all we have and it can usually be whatever we make of it. When I did my own chart once, I concluded that suicide could be a sensible option only if and when afflicted with a painful and incurable disease.

DECISIONS DO NOT HAVE TO BE OVER SUCH DRAMATIC MATTERS.

Our EVALUATING OPTIONS technique can be used to decide whether or not to marry, take a new job, buy a property, and move to a new town or country. You can use it to evaluate a potential business partner, getting a medical or surgical procedure, buying a new or used car, taking a vacation, getting into or settling a lawsuit.

NOTHING NEED BE FOREVER

Will your decision always be the “right one?”

Yes! It will be “right” based upon what you know and can find out. You can never be sure what the future will bring, but if you don’t burn your bridges, in most cases you can arrange things to go back to where you were. In other words, whatever you do, keep other appealing options open so that a “Plan B” or even a Plan C can be available if your first choice doesn’t work out.

TEST THE WATERS BEFORE YOU JUMP

I once had a friend who in 2013 was so influenced by the Gloom and Doom “Escape from America” gurus she was reading, that she decided to sell out her USA property, give up her job and move to what she expected to be “paradise in Ecuador.” Like 2/3rds of the people who abruptly decide to become expats, she immediately got homesick. She moved back taking a big loss on her property, and a setback in her career.  Thus, one of your most important options you list, should always be to make a temporary move that could be undone without a big loss.

For example? Try out a new country by taking a vacation there. Lease a home or condo. Don’t stay in a hotel. Get the feel of being a permanent resident without any huge expense or long term commitment. Likewise, in personal relationships, try out a new business or life partner in an arrangement less permanent and less hard to get out of than an irrevocable marriage contract…

If you are thinking about a drastic career change, divorce, changing nationalities or renouncing your citizenship, don’t make such decisions lightly. Always EVALUATE OPTIONS.

Carefully consider the positives and negatives. Get objective advice from a sensible person who has “been there; done that.” Grandpa will always help his readers in these matters.

Post your comments, thoughts, related personal experiences, corrections or questions below.

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