There are lots of methods and techniques for making decisions. One of the most commonly used is the pros versus cons list or risks versus rewards. This type of list helps make a clear distinction about what benefits a choice offers, and also what you have to lose.

To make it easy, I put together a basic spreadsheet that I use to quickly show how the rewards measure up to the risks, and vice versa.

When you have a decision to make, begin by listing all the rewards the choice offers, then choose a weight for the reward. I like the weighted approach because though you may end up with the same number of rewards as risks, the overall weight is what will determine the choice. Once you have listed the rewards, do the same for the risks.

As an example, let say you’re trying to decide whether to go skiing this weekend. You’d begin by listing the rewards – such as fun, seeing friends, etc. – along with a weight on a scale from 0-5 on the importance of each reward. Next you’d list the risks – you can’t ski, breaking something, death, etc. – and the weight of each risk. The worksheet uses a simple calculation to determine the outcome, and displays a message along with a simple bar graph of the results.

Risks vs Rewards Worksheet

What you end up with is a clear picture, based on your own thoughts about specific factors, of which direction to take.

Download Risks versus Rewards Worksheet (MS Excel – Tested in versions 2000 and 2003)

Tony D. Clark writes, draws cartoons, designs software and websites, and spends a lot of time talking others into working from home, being creative, and doing what they love. His blog Success from the Nest focuses on helping parents who want to do meaningful work from home and have more time for their families. His weekly podcast The Creative Venture is designed to bridge the gap between creativity and practical business knowledge, helping creative people turn their talents into a thriving business.

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