10 July 2020

A Model for Decision Making When You're Stuck

Everyone gets stuck making tough decisions. I’m frequently stuck. I procrastinate, I flick from one tab to another getting no-where, I avoid making a decision.

A few months ago, I was stuck on a problem. I felt that I needed a mentor to help me. I had it on my todo list but I couldn’t get round to it, I was spinning, procrastinating, staring at a brick wall. I was not making a decision.

Then I realized that the GROW model we use at CloudMade would help me scale the mental brick wall.

Coach yourself to make decisions

These questions (taken from Coaching for Performance) are useful when you have an issue that needs exploring and solving. This can be anything from personal issues, team conflicts, prioritization, to full-blown crises.

Using the questions is straightforward - you don’t need to know anything about coaching to use them. To get the best result:

  1. Set yourself a time limit. Something between 30 minutes and 55 minutes should work well. Too short and you won’t go deep enough. Too long and you will stagnate on issues.
  2. Go with your gut. Try and write down everything that comes to you as you work through the questions.
  3. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom, but don’t be afraid to back up and re-visit questions if new ideas or perspectives come to mind. But try to avoid skipping questions. The GROW model makes you focus on the goal before you brainstorm the outcome. Give it a shot!


Maybe you respond better to verbal queues. If so, consider getting a colleague to read the questions to you. If you prefer to verbalize ideas (speak them) rather than write them, think about using a dictation app like Otter.ai.

Follow my prompts

Self-coaching questions for decision making

  1. What would you like to work on?
  2. What would you like to have after answering this set of questions (e.g. a first step, a strategy, a solution)
  3. What goal related to this issue would you like to set yourself?
  4. When are you going to achieve it?
  5. What are the benefits for you in achieving this goal?
  6. Who else will benefit and in what way?
  7. What will it be like if you achieve your goal?
  8. When you have achieved your goal, what will you see/hear/feel? (Close your eyes and imagine that you are there).
  9. What actions have you taken so far?
  10. What are you doing that is moving you towards your goal?
  11. What is getting in the way?
  12. What different kinds of options do you have to achieve your goal?
  13. What else could you do?
  14. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  15. Which options will you choose to act on?
  16. When are you going to start each action?
  17. What could anyone else do to give you support and when will you ask them for it?
  18. How committed are you on the 1-10 scale to take these actions?
  19. If it is not a 10, what could make it a 10?
  20. What will you commit to doing?
  21. Who can you work with to keep you accountable (if you have a coach, they are a great person for this. If you do not have a coach, choose a colleague or friend who can help keep you accountable)

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