A dilemma resists easy solutions. No matter what you do, you seem to lose something important.
In a dilemma, every choice seems like a bad one. If you do X, it’s bad. If you don’t do X, it’s also bad. And Y is no better.
Here are the basic steps to addressing any dilemma
1. Check yourself. Are you the problem? When you hold your choices rigidly, you constrict yourself, and your best resources are not available to you. Say out loud what you see as your choices and their consequences. Tell someone else what you see, and ask them to repeat the tradeoffs to you.
2. Check your assumptions. A dilemma arises when you value two things that appear to be mutually exclusive. Is it really so? Is there a way to move from either/or to both/and? Again, tell someone else about your choices and see if they can bring new perspective.
3. Identify the constraint. In the Theory of Constraints, there is always one thing, and only one thing, limiting your productivity (being able to achieve both outcomes). Focus on the constraint and ask, how can we dissolve the constraint?
4. Change the frame. Consider rethinking your time horizon. Are you willing to play the long game vs. going for short term wins?
5. Ask for help. Someone else will see through the clutter in your mind and suggest a different way to think about it that opens new possibilities
6. Pursue the Third Option. Instead of choosing A or B, or compromising between the two, look for something different that incorporates the essential parts of both. It’s a 3rd point of view.
7. Make the best of it. Make a conscious choice about how to address the dilemma in a way that leaves you feeling whole, filled with integrity and agency. Then focus somewhere else where you have more agency.
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