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You have a big decision in front of you.

Maybe you have to decide whether to take a job in a new city. Maybe you’re weighing whether you should go back to school for a graduate degree.  Or maybe you’re tempted to dump the cubicle and strike out with a business of your own.

It’s an overwhelming decision and you’re not sure what’s best.

You’ve tried asking friends and mentors for advice.  You’ve made lists of pros and cons.  You’ve even tried listening to your gut after a particularly heavy meal.

The problem is that for every method you use, it just seems more complicated.  The advice you get is as conflicted as your heart.

You’re actually less sure of what you should do than when you started, and the not knowing is making you sick (maybe your gut is just being petulant).

If this sounds familiar, you need to read Chip and Dan Heath’s latest book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.  As a scientist who has worked among decision making researchers, I can say this is hands down the most digestible (and enjoyable) book on the topic I’ve come across.

There are the books you’d buy for yourself, and then there are the books that everyone gets for the next holiday.  This is one of those books.

In this post, I’m not only providing an overview, I’m giving away 5 free copies before the book is even available in stores. Read on for a primer on smart decision making and to enter to win a free copy of this extraordinarily useful book for yourself.

Why can’t we decide

The basic premise is that not only do most of us fail to have a good system for making big decisions, but the decisions we do make are compromised by hidden psychological biases.  Consider these consequences

Career choices, for instance, are often abandoned or regretted. An American Bar Association survey found that 44% of lawyers would recommend that a young person not pursue a career in law. A study of 20,000 executive searches found that 40 percent of senior-level hires “are pushed out, fail or quit within 18 months.” More than half of teachers quit their jobs within four years. In fact, one study in Philadelphia schools found that a teacher was almost two times more likely to drop out as a student.

The statistics for business and personal decisions aren’t much better.

One reason for this trend, as we’ve discussed on this blog before, is a reliance on intuition when you don’t have enough training or experience.

But the solution is more than just ignoring our guts when we don’t have enough information.

The book lays out a four step process to combat what they call the “4 villains of decision making.”  Their process can be conveniently remembered by the acronym WRAP:

  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality-test your assumptions
  3. Attain distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong

This first step is the one I see missing a lot as people try to shake up their careers.  Take our examples at the start of the post.  They’re all whether or not type questions, which only examine a single option compared to status quo (some people consider status quo a second option, but researchers view this kind of decision as an “up or down” vote on a single choice).

The book highlights a number of great techniques for doing widening your options, which you can apply to everything from buying big screen TVs to creating a powerhouse business model like Walmart.

But my favorite technique is the idea you should focus on AND instead of OR.  In this short video, I show you how to apply this idea to the typical “follow your passion” advice.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Trick your brain

If humans were hyper-rational beings, simply widening our options might be enough to overcome our decision-making woes.

Unfortunately, emotion, overconfidence, and a self-confirmation bias complicate things.  So we have to trick our brains.

For example, lots of people would like a more flexible schedule that allows them to occasionally work from home.  At first, you may think your only option is to quit your job and find one that’s more accommodating.

Even widening your options may be difficult because you will focus on information that supports your viewpoint (“They already told Dale he couldn’t telework”), and downplay information that contrasts (“Joan has a special work arrangement, but only because she travels so much.  Her situation is different.”).

This is called the self-confirmation bias.  To overcome it, you must trick your brain into thinking more objectively.  When evaluating options, try asking yourself these questions:

  1. What if your least favorite option were actually the best one? What data might convince you of that?
  2. What’s the most likely way I could fail to get the right information in this situation?
  3. Is there a way to test my options before committing to one?
  4. What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?

The book walks you through numerous examples, many of them counter-intuitive, that demonstrate how these simple questions can produce much better decisions.

Stop agonizing over your decisions … today

I love this book and I know you will too.  We’re all faced with tough decisions in life and work.  Career change just happens to be a particularly complicated one.

I have five free copies to give away, before you can even get them in bookstores. Sweet!

To win one of 5 free copies: leave a comment discussing one decision you’re struggling with and how you think this book might help you.  On Sunday, March 17, I’ll choose five lucky winners.  Shipping costs are on me.

Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the decision you might want to discuss, you’re welcome to use a pseudonym instead of your real name.  Just make sure you put your real email address in the comment form (no one sees it but me) so I can email the winners for their mailing address.

If you don’t win a free copy, I urge you to get a copy of Decisive anyway (affiliate). What I particularly love about this book is that it provides a process that anyone can follow.  As I’ve said about my No Regrets Career Academy, a process gives you confidence.  It provides a logical, unbiased method for making the best choice possible and taking appropriate risk.

If carpe diem is a central tenant by which you mean to live your life, then you need this process to be both bolder and wiser.

As we say around these parts, dare to shine.

Full disclosure: I have been a giddy fan of Chip and Dan Heath for a long time.  After reading the first chapter of Decisive (sent to their newsletter subscribers), I requested a free copy of the book to review–one of the perks of blogging.  Crown Publishing graciously provided a whole box to share with my best friends (aka you).  Their generosity did not influence the substance of my review, but it did make me happy.

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65 Responses to Make Better Choices: A Review of Decisive

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 8:52 am
    • Amanda
    • Said...

    I am trying to make a career decision. Currently I am working full time as an art teacher, but my job is tedious and I have a far drive. Additionally, my position is shared between two schools. On the side I do photography part-time, and am also going to school for design. I am trying to make the decision on whether or not to keep teaching art in the school system or to pursue my other creative careers full-time. Hesitation comes from not having enough money saved up to justify just quiting without having many clients. It’s been weighing on me for months now, but I don’t want to take a leap without being financially secure. With the way things are currently, I can’t invest as much time in building my businesses as I would like because of my job and because I go to school at night. It’s a hard decision and I feel like I need to put a time limit on it.

    • Amanda,
      Yep, that sounds frustrating alright! I would see if you can take some of the advice from the book (whether or not you win a copy) and try to get out of the “whether or not” question trap. Try to expand your options. One way to do this is to get more clarity on what question you’re trying to answer? Are you looking for ways to be happier? More creative? Less stressed? Pretend that quitting your job isn’t an option, but you can’t live with the status quo either. What else could you do to help answer your core need?

      • On
      • March 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm
      • Karli
      • Said...

      I am trying to make a decision about career timing. I know what potential career I want to pursue (sort of) I have it down to three. However, each require me to start my own business. I also have a strong desire to travel. I’m trying to decide whether to pursue my desired career first and travel abroad in several years down the road or to go ahead and work abroad(teaching English) and return to the states in 2-3 years and start my own business.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 9:46 am
    • Tracey
    • Said...

    Hi Jennifer,
    how apt to read this review now – and I would LOVE to win a copy!
    My big decision is about where to live… specifically the UK, or back in my homeland, South Africa. I’ve been in the UK for 16 years, and have been running my own business for the last 4.5 years. I also have a great circle of friends, and I love the freedom that living in London affords me…
    family is calling! My parents are getting on & while they still have their health (thank goodness!), I’m so aware of the passage of time. My siblings & their children all encourage me to return – they miss me & I miss them.
    The fears that I think are holding me back are
    1) starting from scratch socially – leaving friends behind, finding new ones (I don’t currently have a partner)
    2) moving my business from somewhere where I’m well known, respected, and referred to a lot, to somewhere where I’d be back at the starting post.
    It’s sitting heavily on my heart…

    Phew, it feels good in a way to acknowledge this …


    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 9:53 am
    • Jim
    • Said...

    I’d like this book as I’m pondering what to pursue to bring in additional income to support my family. I think this book will help me look at my options with a clearer perspective.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 10:02 am
    • Nick Moore
    • Said...

    I am deciding between sticking through some tough things at my current job, or moving on to more secure employment.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 10:02 am
    • Claire
    • Said...

    Thanks for sharing Jen.

    My passion is coaching and I want to help more people to achieve their iWISH, iCAN iWILL ….? I suppose my main problem is i dither about my next moves , then end up retreating before I’ve given it a real go fearing that I am wasting my time and my energy and that it should be redirected.

    having a more concret plan would probably help me make better decisions. I think a Easter vacation with Chip and Dan sounds cool! put me in the draw!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 10:40 am
    • Stuck
    • Said...

    Ever since my first child was born 4 years ago I’ve been struggling to rediscover my passion for my career. My spouse stays home so I’m the breadwinner, but my job feels so dull and tedious now. I’ve been stuck for years in thought circles. New company? Then I’d have to work those long “prove myself again” hours. New career? But what? Nothing sounds out-of-this-world exciting. Oh no, am I just scared of hard work suddenly? I never was before. Guess I’ll just stay where I am and plod along…

    I overthink even easy decisions like what to have for dinner, so you can imagine what I’ve been putting myself through with this career malaise.

  1. I’m struggling with what is next for my career. Within my field, I’m reaching a ceiling where I don’t have much higher to go. I know I have more I can do, more I can offer to more people. I want to find those “and” solutions, where I can keep doing what I’m doing, AND find the way to put my other abilities to productive use. I want to find the right balance so neither suffers, nor does my family. But, how do I know when I’m investing enough into each of them? These are the kinds of decisions I struggle with because I haven’t found that point where it feels right, even if it makes sense logically. Sounds like this book may help me find out. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:06 am
    • Dave
    • Said...

    I constantly struggle with my productivity. I love the rush of taking on all kinds of tasks and completing goals, but I hate that I am constantly being worn out by stretching myself too thin. The problem is discerning what is I have to and a want to and letting go of good things so that I can do the best things. All of that sounds easy on paper, but when it comes to actually letting things go, I can never bring myself to do it.

    • When you figure this out, will you please, please tell me how to do it too? :)

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:06 am
    • Sambaran
    • Said...

    Thanks Jen for a wonderful post and a wonderful book review.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:09 am
    • Tara Rourke
    • Said...

    The ironic timing of this email message is crazy. I have currently applied for 4 graduate school programs and hoping to apply for more. I work in a job that does not suit me at all, sitting in a cubicle all day long, not interested or passionate about the field, and being forced to pretend that I will continue to “develop” myself in my current career. Each day is an internal struggle. I am single, have no real attachments to my current environment and figure now is a better time than ever to make a drastic change… but I can’t help feeling guilty because I am putting my wants and desires ahead of those of my family.

    This book sounds fantastic and I hope to get my hands on a copy. I need an extra push right now to keep the motivation to continue on this journey.

    Thank you,

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:19 am
    • Kris
    • Said...

    I’m wrestling with the prospect of going to graduate school to stay in my current career of advising students or enjoying my life that is already full with a new baby to enjoy and full time job. Time and energy seem so much more valuable now and I want to use my them in the most important ways. Making a good decision seems even more important to me now.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:31 am
    • Marianne
    • Said...

    This book could help me clarify a life decision. Unlike most of you, I am already a senior citizen, still in work force, but facing what could be a final life move. I have some options; not alot. This could help me discard what might be detrimental considerations.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:47 am
    • Diane
    • Said...

    I am currently struggling with a decision on whether to put our house on the market and move to the area we want to live in, or stay put for the time being and refinance. There are things that factor into this, including our home based business, which is our primary source of income, as well as one son still attending college in this area and living at home.

    At the same time, my older son is trying to decide on whether to return to school for a second degree in a different field or pursue his masters.

    We could both benefit from reading this book!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:51 am
    • Phil
    • Said...

    My wife and I are both in the decision trap regarding a career switch. We both feel that our current professions have run their course and it is now time to reconsider other possibilities. As with many, the road block comes in many forms – years of learning to achieve a level of expertise in our current fields, kids ingrained in school and friends, standard of living we are use to, etc. They are all weighty topics that alone become debilitating when faced with making a decision, much less all coupled together for what is a major change not only for my wife and I as individuals, but to the entire family. I would love to see what Dan and Heath offer as a map of sorts to what plagues many.

    • You know, in many ways, making a career switch together opens up new opportunities. You have a lot of variables at play, which is probably just one reason why this is such a hard decision for you. On the other hand, you have a lot of variables which means flexibility and options! As much as possible, focus on that bright side and really try to be as creative as possible with all the variables you have at hand.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm
    • Fred
    • Said...

    Great review – the book sounds like a good read. Hope I’m one of the winners chosen. I’ve got a veritable boatload of choices to make, regarding how and where to stay alive, being one of the long-term unemployed, single, and over 50. Critical decisions must be made soon, and I could use all the help I can get (there are a lot of people in this unenviable predicament, to be sure).

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm
    • Renee
    • Said...

    For years, I’ve wanted to leave my job, my relationship, my location and start over. I can’t find a way to justify it’s right thing to do, but my gut keeps pushing me. Help!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    • ThatGuyKC
    • Said...

    Since launching Some Wise Guy two years ago I’ve agonized to some degree on a few things. 1) how to focus content 2) finding my writing voice. Lately, I’ve struggled with the decision whether to quit Jeff Goins style. To shut down Some Wise Guy and launch a new blog.

    I’ve heard of the AND vs OR principle from Dan Miller (author of “48 days to the work you love”) before and find it both intriguing and inspiring (see what I did there?).

    Most of my writing revolves around experience as a husband and father as well as a working professional. I’ve felt the tension to gravitate between family and leadership topics because of the desire for a narrow focus. The more narrow your niche the greater your audience, the saying goes.

    But, if I think about it in terms of AND instead of OR that begs the question “Why not write about the intersection of family and leadership?”

    Decisive sounds like a fantastic book and even if I don’t win a copy will probably pick one up from Amazon. However, yesterday was my anniversary AND I turn 30 in April so… :)

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm
    • Jennifer
    • Said...

    I want out, but what else is there? I’m bored with what I do (typing/customer service), but I literally cannot come up with anything else I want to do that’s better than this. I used to be a reporter, but that kind of work is done these days and I’m glad I got laid off when I did. I want some kind of creative career, but I don’t want to run my own business–but as far as I can tell, run my own business is the only option. Call me crazy for wanting a regular paycheck and health insurance, but there it is. I always figured I’d write books and run a craft business, but I am not super motivated to do a second job after the first one is done, the finances and the personal rejection of craft sales get to me, my fiction writing is decidedly meh compared to my nonfiction and…well, neither of those occupations are SHOWY enough. If I had acting talent, singing talent, or the looks, I’d be wanting to get onstage. Except I don’t have those and have been trying to figure out a new “compromise career” (with the stable paychecks and employment by others) for years now. I still can’t come up with anything I WANT to do.

    I am also pondering moving to a location that’s more known for creative careers, but people tell me I need a plan and a goal for my career before I do anything like that. And I’m a carfree suburban girl, so moving to a big city with cars as a requirement intimidates the hell out of me anyway.

    I’ve been pondering this for six years and am still stumped and the career counselor doesn’t know what to do with me any more. Prayer isn’t working, nothing is working. I have wussed out on moving for the last 2 years and at this point, I think I’ll just be stuck here forever. I can’t see a plausible, realistic way to handle this situation that isn’t “stay in current job until you die.”

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm
    • Vanessa
    • Said...

    Hey Jenn,
    2 years ago I thought I arrived at a great decision to end my quarter life crisis: pursue screenwriting on the side while working full time in the cable industry. I have since proven unable or unwilling to make the time to write with a full time job.

    I want help to validate whether this initial decision is correct (screenwriting) and whether I need to change other factors to make it possible (have a more flexible schedule, get more confidence). If that is the case, I’m not sure what kind of job would make me enough money AND be stimulating enough with extra time. I love to learn all the time.

    If my initial hunch on the screenwriting is wrong then I have no idea what to do for a career only that I don’t like working for large corporations in more of an entry level capacity. I am both creative & analytical and I struggle with making the right decision for everything from what to eat for lunch, do friday night go on vacation, who to marry and on and on. This book sounds too good to be true.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm
    • Tammy
    • Said...

    This book sounds great! I have been struggling with decisions on what to do with starting a business and further direction down the road. Thanks!

    • Tammy,
      I think you’ll find the book a wonderful resource, but you might also want to check out my upcoming webinar for budding entrepreneurs, esp. for those wanting to do it on the side. Good luck!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm
    • Eugene
    • Said...

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the heads up on this book. Decision-making is something I’m really looking to improve, both on the macro level (in choosing a career, pursuing a relationship), and on the micro level (day-to-day decisions to be more efficient).

    What you wrote about widening the options, and reality-test the assumptions really resonates with what I feel like I need. Too often, I get fixated on “the one”, and attach my own assumptions to it without testing how it really is.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm
    • Francisco
    • Said...

    Hey Jenn!! Its a hard task this process of decision making. I am in a crossroads, professionaly, currently I am a lawyer, who would never recommend that carreer, which makes me part of the statistics your article pointed out!! But also I was in Franciscan formation in order to become a friar about 5 years ago, I did three years of formation! But over the last year or so, ideas of going back to the Franciscans have haunted me, and I cannot really figure out what to do?? Thanks Jenny for all your wonderful dedication, help, tips and love through your blog!!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm
    • Maria
    • Said...

    Hi Jennifer,

    I am 46 years old, and there are two decisions that I have been trying to make. The first one is whether or not to have another child (I have a three year old boy), and the second, is whether or not to go back to school to pursue my PMP certification, so that I can make the leap from a technical position (DBA), to IT Project Manager. The longer this indecisiveness continues, the worse I feel. I recommit to making a firm decision every day, but somehow, I do not.

    I would love to read that book.


    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm
    • C.R.
    • Said...

    I once read that it is almost impossible to find people who can put their stuff in priority order AND execute it in that order.

    I wonder: with decision making problem, is the issue more on the side that you don’t know what to do, or, is the execution part the harder bite? I further wonder: might it help to have clarity on this question, thus knowing better where to look for a solution.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm
    • C.R.
    • Said...

    Further clarification. I am suggesting, that maybe it sometimes is, that you KNOW what to do, you know what to decide, but since you can’t follow through with action, for a reason or another, you halt your decision making. Kind of blaming the wrong horse.

  2. Hi Jen,

    Great article, I really liked the idea of widening your options.

    I think that the science behind decision making is only starting to be tapped into by the mainstream and there are going to be lots of books that focus on practical advice and methodologies for making decisions.

    I started a blog this year to dig into this whole topic and discover ways of converting the science stuff into practical software applications that anyone can use at blog.the-decision-wall.com (or click on my name above the comment).

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm
    • DL
    • Said...

    I’ve spent so much of my life wondering if I made the right choices since high school. Wishing I would’ve done more. My problem is for some reason I feel like I can’t commit to 2 career paths at once, since so many articles I’ve read want people to focus on one thing for starters, but I hate committing to one thing at a time because I’m constantly wondering “what if…?” if I didn’t choose the other path I wanted to at the same time. I also read there’s this “time limit” for certain opportunities which also doesn’t help in deciding.

    For instance, right now I want to do both acting and writing but 1) I don’t want to choose between them & 2) I feel extremely compelled that I must (because I put so much pressure on myself, especially when I’m busy looking for freelance work which is sporatic). I don’t know what to do, and for the past year and a half I’ve been torn between these things, meanwhile spending thousands on classes but not fully committing to either career or putting 100% of my heart into either, so I’ve been stressed, depressed, and confused on a daily basis.

    Since my career is in the arts, I know I have to push myself to live my life at the same time so my art has grounding but I can’t seem to enjoy life because I keep doubting whether or not I love the work I do because of my lack of commitment. Shouldn’t I know by now if I’m passionate about these careers, and it’s just a matter of being honest with myself?

    At one point, I decided to stick with writing but suddenly I had this great acting opportunity, which made me want to do acting again (probably because of the validation. Acting can be great but without anything tangible to show for it, like a film in my hands, say, it seems…empty?)

    I feel like my intuition gets more and more corrupted the more I talk to others, being easily influenced by other people’s opinions.

    Is it possible to not decide and just be extremely, extremely organized in getting everything done? (Though the thought of that wears me out too!)

    I wish I could read the future!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm
    • DCT
    • Said...

    Thanks for this opportunity not only to “win” a copy of Decisions, but to actively think about my decision process. I generally agonize over all decisions, no matter how big or how small – which outfit to wear at an event, which pair of shoes to buy, what to order for dinner, how to prioritize my day, what career should I pursue next? It is an agonizing process that never stops because life is a continual process of making choices. Perhaps my fear of being ‘wrong’ stops me from being able to make decisions in a free and flowing manner. Perhaps it’s because I don’t feel comfortable with indecision that I am not able to ponder my choices calmly. My most overwhelming decisions right now are about the medical and financial care of my aunt and uncle. They are both in facilities that have become too expensive for them to remain in much longer. The alternate living options for my uncle are not very good. It is one thing to make decisions for myself; it is another thing to make important decisions for someone else’s life. …Yet I know people do it all the time, and they do it well. I hope Decisions will help me do it a little better.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm
    • Portia
    • Said...

    I LOVE Dan and Chip Heath! Thanks for a great review, Jen. I’ve been looking for a new book to read so am adding this to my list. This will be next after I finish Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” :-).

  3. Thanks, Jen, for the great review.

    I’ve just recently found these guys and am a fan. I’ll put this on my reading list for sure. I have no huge, agonizing decisions I’m facing right now – fortunately I’m on a path that I’m very happy about. I find these paths just through trying stuff – using the AND thinking you’re talking about.

    But we can all get better dealing with those daily cul-de-sacs we find ourselves in.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm
    • ctf
    • Said...

    My team is going through a TON of changes at work, which is creating a lot of important decisions for me to make. At the same time, I need to decide when and how to make my exit, but only after navigating the changes we’re going through. The book would help on both accounts.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm
    • Nancy
    • Said...

    Interesting reading all your replies, I can relate to so many of them so that helps me feel better.

    No major decision wrestling going on right now… other than the feeling that I’m in my 50’s, time is moving on, what do I have to show for my life, etc. Really bored with my job and have little desire to go there, but of course there are bills to pay and a reputation to uphold.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm
    • Susan
    • Said...

    Hi Jen,

    I liked your post. Decisive sounds like a good book for me because I’ve been stuck for quite a while. I’m old(er) and have done a few different kinds of work, without having had a full-fledged career, and I’m trying to figure out what’s next. I feel like I’ve wasted all my downtime and now I really need to get back to work. There is the immediate issue of income, but the more important goal of meaningful, satisfying work.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm
    • ann
    • Said...

    I have gone through a lot during the last two years moving ,home,country,divorce,leting go of negative friends oh so sad to bad.i feel i am a bit clearer than before and really don’t want to be pitied i do have two major decisions and because of my two year trauma and disappiontments, i don’t trust myself fully to make the right decisions and i get people ask me why it’s so difficult to act or make a decision at the moment with any major decision i need to make.i behave like a opossum when in danger(play dead). i know this is harmful to myself because i have kids and i’d rather ran out and play with them than be responsible which is the opposite…if you think the book could help me i would accept the gift.Thank-you

  4. For me it’s the decision if I want to go back to college and finish my bachelor’s degree. Last March I was passed for a promotion because i didn’t have a BS degree, I only had an associates degree.

    I was devastated. I had taken the initiative asked for extra duties to prepare for the opportunity and it was useless in the end.

    I am considering getting my business degree so it will not get in the way, but in the mean time I have begun my own business utilizing my skills and passions.

    I think that DECISIVE will help me iron out and lay down an effective game-plan to tackle my dreams.

    • Taking the initiative is NEVER a waste of time. I’m sure you learned a lot from those experiences. I think starting your own business is a great idea. It makes me sad to see employers so fixated on degrees. Definitely think HARD about whether or not your business degree will return on its investment. It doesn’t for many. Talk to people who have gone through the program and get specifics on how much it cost them, what kind of raise they got after finishing, and how many years it will take to pay back the cost of school (esp. against potential money you could make on the side with your own business). There’s more to the decision than money, but don’t neglect the reality!

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm
    • Samantha
    • Said...

    I am struggling with turning 50, loving my current work but regularly feeling an intuitive pull that there is something else out there that I would love and on some deep-rooted level need to do – all while maintaining my standard of living and gaining more free time. I think Decisive might help by establishing a process that I can work through to come to a decision – a process can minimize risk and fear. I like and value logic. But I am driven by emotion equally, sometimes more, than logic. I hope this book would help me sort and balance these two aspects of decision-making.

    • On
    • March 12, 2013 at 11:32 pm
    • Janet
    • Said...

    Hi Jen
    Thanks again for sharing – sounds like an excellent read and one I can certainly do with.

    I ‘think’ I’ve made a decision to move on from my safe, well paying but uninspiring job and move on to a new career as a Flying Instructor. I say, ‘think’ I have, because that is the decision my heart wants to make, but my head tells me a different story, too old, not good enough etc etc. This dillemna always leaves me in a stale-mate

    I’d love to uncover a process to get the heart and the head on the same page, which hopefully would make decision making easy!

  5. I have been struggling with significant life decisions following several sequential life changes (empty nest, widower after being a caregiver for four years, and a career that has run its course). The past few months have found me floundering as I attempt to decide between too few options, none of which were likely to work well. I recently tried one of the options without success, and have been considering what to try next.

    Only today did I begin considering a slightly different variation on one of my options. This variation, such a small change really, might just work quite well and open some exciting doors. I lacked words to describe what was in my mind though – until I found a link to this article. Now I realize that “widening my options” was a simple adjustment to my thinking that might prove quite beneficial.

    Thanks for sharing. This article came at a critical time for me and will certainly help me as I pursue a few important decisions in the coming days and weeks.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 2:54 am
    • Science on my mind
    • Said...

    I did a sciece degree and then moved into business and then to IT as I felt that science was both very unstable (due to funding issues, here in Australia) and not paid well.
    I’d like to get back there as I did really enjoy it but like many struggling to make it work.
    I would love a copy of the book to help me on this journey.

  6. As a flexible work advisor with an online biz called Work Options, I love that the book is about widening *options* and you gave an example on *flexible work* schedules.

    My struggle is deciding on a level of commitment to further business growth when my husband and I are at a stage in life where we’re seriously thinking about moving overseas to do full-time missions work.

    I’d like to win the book as it might help me see new and expanded options for addressing this crossroads of decision.

    • That’s a hard one, Pat. I still struggle with that myself. Since mine was meant to be a life-style business from the start, I’m determined not to cordon off big blocks of time for other things, even at the expense of making more money. So far, I think that’s served me well and has forced me to be more creative in how to make money that works for me and my family. But it HARD. There are days I want to quit. Fortunately, every time I say, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to make life easier!” I find the sentiment disappears on its own. It’s like my brain wants to play chicken with me. :)

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 8:16 am
    • Karen
    • Said...

    Hi Jen, thank you for reviewing this book, I immediately added it to my Amazon wishlist. At 44 years of age, I believe I am finally discovering how to BE my authentic self but my ability to decide on what to DO with the next half of my life still has me going in circles and stuck in a state of limbo. I could certainly use some enlightenment and direction to help me make a choice and get moving.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 8:38 am
    • Dennis Hester
    • Said...

    Decision Making Ideas
    How to think about making a decision for a new career or job.

    How do I match what I have a passion for and can get paid for it at the same time. Use this method when thinking about a job or career.

    Because of my wives’ health she is now retired and we live mostly live on her disability check. She has been a wonderful midwife and mid-level health care provider for women, but because of her health we lost her health care business and eventually our home. I have been a minister and church consultant for over 30 years, but recently moved closer to where my mother lives following the death of my dad. So now I have few contacts into down the ministering that I love. So, our world has been turned upside down. I now have a part-time job supervising at a Lawn Care company. My wife also has her doctorate in Natural Medicine and I have skills in leadership, conflict management that I used in teaching congregations that I believe can be used in other fields of work. I am also a published author and write Amazon Kindle eBooks. I believe this book on decision making could help me to think differently about how I can “re-dream my dream of ministry” and use some of the skills I’ve learned in a new career. The book could also help my wife in finding a way to continue to empower and educate women in how to better care for their health. We are both starting over and need to see different options in how we can start or modify our careers. We would like to continue making a living by providing the encouragement
    and care that we have been used to providing in helping others make their decisions for a better
    life spiritually, financially, emotionally, and in choosing their careers also. I believe Chip and Dan Heath’s latest book, DECISIVE would help us in making plans for our future. Thank you for the invitation to contribute to this blog.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 9:09 am
    • Beth O'Donnell
    • Said...

    Whether or not to launch an “expert site” on living happily as a single woman over 40. I’m not comfortable being the front woman. I feel better as number 2.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 10:56 am
    • Stephanie C.
    • Said...

    Hi, Jen,

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this book. I definitely could benefit from this book as I struggle with making even simple decisions. Case in point is my need to make a decision about a camera lens I want to purchase. There is a clear winner, but, in my mind, I am keeping my options open. Open for what, I’m not sure… Imagine how indecisive I am about what to do with my professional life! I’m hoping to win a copy of the book, but I will buy it if not.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    • Lincoln Norton
    • Said...

    I am struggling with my career as well. I have been working successfully for seven years as a stock broker but find it rote and not too fulfilling. The money is nice but it isn’t everything. Truth be told its not that much money but it is comfortable. I have wanted to quit and get a part time job for living expenses and then do a couple of internships in different fields like marketing, consulting and counseling. I fear that I will find out the other side is not greener.

    • Lincoln,
      I understand your fear. I felt the same way when I decided to make my leap. I think what’s most comforting is that it is greener on the other side, but it’s not a field of ever-blooming flowers either. I still have stressful days (more than I’d like), but here’s the kicker: it’s because I’m choosing to step outside my comfort zone on a regular basis, not because of rules outside of my control. I’m not making as much money as I used to, but I am so, so proud of every dollar I do make. I work very, very hard, but when I want to, I up and go dog-sledding.

      It’s not easy. But I’d never, ever go back and I certainly don’t have any regrets. And neither do any of my clients. For what it’s worth!

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm
    • Kristin
    • Said...

    I’m wondering if my job suits my personality? And if not, I’m faced with finding a new career. My job entails giving presentations to groups of people and apparently I’m not very good at it. My boss gives me luke warm reviews as a result. The funny thing is, I’m exceptionally well trained in public speaking: don’t speak to your slides, make-eye contact, speak loudly, ask open ended questions. I’ve even been “trained” as a trainer. Admittedly, I’m an introvert but I wouldn’t think that would play a part in my Presentations.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm
    • Scroto
    • Said...

    My decision to make a seek another employer after working for the same employer for 20+ years. Should I just retire with the same employer, could I get a better salary and c challenge with another employer…

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm
    • Said...

    I know I want to fight to keep a relationship. But how ?! Sometimes more is less, sometimes less is more. There must be methods, theories and processes out there.

    • On
    • March 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm
    • Helen
    • Said...

    Jennifer, Great review of the book & based on all the comments sounds like perfect timing for many! I was let go from my Wall Street job 1.5 yrs ago & have been pursuing a career in wine. I am trying to decide if I want to continue pursuing a wine job (which I Do) or go back to Wall Street – which I really do NOT want to do. Time & money are running out – so do I go back & get a job I don’t want to make money?? Or do I keep on trying the wine route?? Decisions decisions…..

    • On
    • March 14, 2013 at 12:42 am
    • Martha Randolph
    • Said...

    Decisive? Oh yeah, I’m decisive alright but I don’t stick with my decisions – just second and triple and quadruple and quintuple guess them. It’s not a happy process and I’m driving my friends nuts along the way.
    My challenge is a wonderful one to have at age 55 (halfway to 110 btw!) but I’m ready to leave my executive, high travel/high pressure job for something at 1/4 the pay but no travel, no long hours or demands but also no stimulus to my brain or competitive spirit. How do I really know I’m ready to chuck it for the slow lane? Will I regret smelling the roses if I find out I’m allergic to smelling roses? I’m terrified of boredom and can’t decide what to do. Help me take a leap of faith, please! Thank you

    • Martha,
      There’s one thing you can be certain of: you have a FANTASTIC sense of humor. Given that, can anything that happens after a change really be all that bad? You should check out my exercise for doing a “pre-mortem.” I think this might help you a lot. You might find you don’t even need the book after that! (But we’ll keep you in the running anyway!)

      Thanks for the laugh!

    • On
    • March 14, 2013 at 10:02 am
    • Rachel
    • Said...

    I need to make several decisions, including some related to my health. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus and my medical bills are outrageous. I have a few different options, but allow myself to get overwhelmed instead of making a choice. Also, related to graduate school. I am near completion, but weighing whether or not I should add a handful of extra classes to complete my second Master’s to go after the job I really want, instead of settling. This book would be a great resource to help me begin to clarify how I make decisions, and what it is that I continuously allow to get in my way.

  7. Hey Jen

    Thank you for another wonderful post! Always good food for thought (and more importantly action!).

    The one decision I am struggling with is: How much discomfort will it take for me to really take some significant steps towards living my passion.

    I work full-time in Public Relations in a role that does not utilise my strengths (in fact sometimes the opposite as I deal with angry residents!) and it drains me of energy. I get so frustrated. I have worked hard and have a general idea of the area of work I want to pursue. I have started building a sidehustle with two friends and running mini workshops at work around my passion. I am also a mentor for students on Scott Dinsmore’s latest course. All of these things I LOVE doing and loose all sense of time when I’m doing them.

    But I feel like it’s still not enough. The majority of my time and energy is still given to this full-time day job. I need to figure out what is holding me back and then how I can overcome it? Am I just afraid? Or am I under-prepared to make a big change?

    So I am hoping that this book might help me work through those issues. To take the next big step towards my passion – perhaps by doing the exercise I will feel more confident in those next steps?

    Thanks Jen for sharing the book with us!


    • On
    • March 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm
    • C.R.
    • Said...

    Let’s add a little bit of science to the soup.


    There is an interesting question of deciding what to decide and what not.

    • On
    • March 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm
    • Deanna
    • Said...

    After taking an early retirement to address family issues, I found myself unable to get full-time work in my new city, despite having a graduate degree and good work credentials. So along with occasional temp work, I began taking classes in a new field – hoping to extend my data analytic skills and a joy in IT team work – into the field of Health Informatics. I won admission into an online program that will allow me to complete a prestigious master’s degree program, but in the mean time, I’ve been unable to obtain even an entry-level position in the health information field. This led me to postpone acceptance of the admission last summer, but it’s now coming time to either “go for it” or give up the spot. I’ll need to take out additional student loans to complete the course – with no guarantee of a future job – if I take the classes. I’m paralyzed by the decision at this point since 1) the financial decision weighs heavily now that I don’t have full-time income and only a very minimal retirement, 2) I’m worried about not finding a job afterward, and 3) I’m simply scared by “What if I can’t do it.” The program will take at least two years, and I’ll be 55 this fall.

    • On
    • March 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    • C.R.
    • Said...

    Interesting situation. I feel like this isn’t about finding your dream career, but about finding a job that pays the bills and is ok enough.

    Because of your age, I am hesitant about additional degree. I think if it aligns well with your previous studies and work experience, extends and builds heavily on that, it might make sense. But two years is a lot. And taking a loan and risking gaining nothing is very unattractive.

    I am wondering about following thing: how much that extra master’s degree would change your position in a job market? If it secures you a well paying job, then, no brainer, go for it. On the other hand, if it doesn’t help you to get any job at all, then, no brainer, that’s not a road to take.

    I would make a controversial suggestion to consider. Play this like a shark. Create a fake CV with fake name, with fake job application letter. Point is to make that CV reflect your situation as if you had completed that master’s degree with good grades. You are not going to try to fake yourself into a job, no! But the point is to test, if your new improved CV with your age +2 years would land you a job interview or not. If it doesn’t, after you apply for maybe 30 open jobs, that gives you valuable information about weather to take the loan and get that master’s degree or not. And if you get the job interview with your fake CV, you have to give it up with a polite reason.

    Another route to get this information would be to find some people in the industry, who could off the record tell you candidly about your possibilities, weather that new degree would help you or not. It is not only about what you can do, but what is your competition like, how you compare with that, and what people are looking for in a new hire, what is important in that field.

    About wondering if you can make it, to get that degree. Could you contact the school and ask about what is the most difficult part of the degree, and get information about that, like about course books, assignments and tests. Maybe you could talk to some students who have taken that road. Understand the requirements and make evaluation of your capabilities to get the degree done.

  8. Talk about having a hard time making a decision! In terms of the five copies of Decisive, I ultimately resorted to a random number generator, as it was completely impossible to judge worthiness with such heartfelt entries. Those winners are: Phil, Renee, Susan, Robert Witham, and Leah Hynes. I’ll contact you via email to coordinate the mailings.

    However, I also plan to offer ALL OF YOU a free webinar, where we can work through some of these ideas in real time. If you didn’t win a copy of Decisive, I urge you to get one. Then the webinar can be like a cross between a book club and a free coaching session. Details to come!

    Thanks to everyone for the willingness to share your toughest decisions. Know that the simple act of sharing your story helped others feel less alone in their struggle. That in itself is a gift.