Have important life decisions? A spreadsheet can help you! by @AZanswers


by Ann Zuraw | Featured Contributor 

Growing up in a family business, we evaluated every real estate project with spreadsheets.  They proved to be a beneficial tool when analyzing projects helping to make our decision process run smoothly. We would look at the projected cash flow and incorporate the different variables in the decision.

We use this method both in managing investment portfolios and personal life decisions. We map out all the different assumptions and estimates before we move ahead with a plan.  We would chart all the pitfalls, as well as all the gains on a particular life choice, and create a clear picture of what to expect along the way. This spreadsheet analysis helps us avoid making black and white decisions which aren’t always the best. Throughout life, we need support to deal with various personal issues whether it’s our relationships, business plans, or investment decisions and having a spreadsheet that contains all the pros and cons could help make the decision-making process beneficial.

Things to consider when making a spreadsheet to help you compare options and possible outcomes:

  • List all the possible choices regarding this decision. Then list the different considerations or factors relevant to each choice on the spreadsheet and give each one value between 1 and 10.
  • Research and gather all the relevant information you can about the job/investment/school/city.
  • Talk to people you trust, look at data and record each of these variables or considerations that are leading you in a certain direction.
  • What potential benefits would come out of the above decisions?
  • Consider your emotions and how making certain decisions make you feel happy, anxious or sad.
  • Know the difference between satisfying and exciting. Choosing exciting over satisfying may not be practical in your long-term future.
  • Weight the variables based on priority. Just because the job or school is “prestigious” does not mean it is a good fit for you personally. The decision that leads you to happiness or low stress may be over-weighted.
  • Evaluate each outcome using the evidence you’ve accumulated.
  • Make a choice and be confident in the decision, once you’ve gone through this thorough process. There are many good options in life, make a strong resolve to follow through on the path you have chosen will help you achieve your goals.

Relevant life tips for decision making:

  • Avoid thinking about “What will people think” because it can be a crippling emotion when you are in the creative process of decision making. But also, asking people, you trust can help you pick apart the story you tell yourself and find a meaningful conclusion.
  • Nothing is owed to us, and everything is available to us.
  • Trust your intuition, start taking steps toward your goal.
  • Ask yourself questions.
  • What is the time frame for the decision in determining whether it was a good decision or not?
  • Face your fears! When we navigate uncharted waters, it’s natural to feel some fear, but pushing through the fear is important for growth. The only way to get rid of the fear is to “feel it and do it anyway.”
  • Examine your motivations as to whether they are true to your soul.

Having the freedom to make life decisions independently is a beautiful gift, we are responsible for our happiness, and that is empowering. So, take charge, set goals and work toward these accomplishments.

(Weighting is based on the different number of factors that are up for consideration. Below there are 25 factors—so 4 points on average using 100.  However, this is where the decision-making becomes important because as you can see the factors in red are very important to this person.  So they could be over-weighted. (8 points each instead of 4)  Bottom line is not all factors are equal for everyone. The spreadsheet analysis brings attention to whichever factors are most important to you.  (note Boston wins here)


Have important life decisions? A spreadsheet can help you!

The key to success is to have a solid plan in place without over analyzing your decisions.  If you have any questions, or need further information please feel free to contact me at Zuraw Financial Advisors. AZ

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One Reply to “Have important life decisions? A spreadsheet can help you! by @AZanswers”

  1. Jane Tabachnick

    Ann these are great tips. As a visual person, I really appreciate that you included the evaluation spreadsheet! I see how it can help keep logic in decisionmaking and keep emotions from being the sole drivers of any decision!

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