We were excited to get the call that our youngest son was on a surprise take leave from his tour in Afghanistan. It wasn't in our budget to take another trip this year, however we understood the affect on our goals, and decided we were willing to accept the consequences. We picked up the phone and made our travel arrangements to Florida to spend the weekend with him. [Shawn & Lori]

Working with Shaun and Lori over the past couple years as their money coach, we created a decision process which now allows them to confidently make decisions. It's not easy to choose between your kids or your retirement; your fun or your responsibilities; but understanding how to make decisions that support your values and create a satisfying life can be empowering.

When faced with tough choices, ask yourself these six questions and your choice will become clearer:

#1 - Am I clear on my long-term goals and short-term targets?
Having clear long-term goals is critical to creating a meaningful life. If you're not clear on your goals, then how do you know what criteria to use in making decisions? More often than not, it becomes your emotions that those decisions are made. Making short-term emotional decisions does not get the long-term outcomes that you desire. It's much easier to make a decision by knowing where your choice will get you closer or further from your long-term goals.

#2 - Have I reviewed my current financial progress?
Making an honest assessment of where you are right now, both financially and with the progress of your life goals, will help you understand the consequences. If you understand where you want to be, and you properly assess where you are today, you will be able to see how your decision will affect your progress.

#3 - What are the underlying values of the options?
In each decision you make, you are choosing between your values. For example if you want to take your kids to a baseball game instead of buying a birthday present for your mother, you are choosing between creating fun experiences for your children, verses expressing your love and care for your mom. Once you understand what the underlying values are, it will be easier to assess which value is more important to you.

#4 - What will I have to give up when making this choice?
Understanding that with each choice you make, not only do you gain something you value, you also give up something you value as well. In the last example, you'd have to give up the time, fun and excitement with your kids, or you'd have to give up a potentially cherished moment with your mom. This is another way of helping you decide which value is more important to you.

#5 - Which choice would I most regret if I didn't choose it?
Now that you're clear on your consequences financially and emotionally, one final test is to ask yourself which you'd regret most. Image it's five or ten years from now. If you chose one over the other, in this case your kids vs. your mom, which would you regret if you didn't do it. This will help you assess their importance, but it can also help you remember that maybe you need to do these more often.

#6 - Are there other ways these options can be met?
Here's the best part. You may be able to not have to make the choice after all. After determining your values, you can now look at ways of finding alternative methods of fulfilling those values that make not cost any money at all. For example, you could BBQ at the river with your kids and create a memorable experience, and you can frame a heart-felt poem for your mom (and she'll love you to pieces for it!).

We were surprised how willing we were to give up that fancy car we had dreamed of, in order to have the ability to spend more time with our family. [Shawn & Lori]

Being clear on your goals and your values makes decision making much easier. Understanding these six questions gives you a process to help you clarify what's most important to you.

Author's Bio: 

Angie M. Grainger, CPA/PFS, CFP(r), Certified Money Coach
President at RETHINK Money Coaching, Inc. Helping people master their money so they use it to transition into thier NEW desired ideal life.

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