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How to Write a Pros and Cons List for Decision-Making

December 10, 2018 Martha Lueck

A pros and cons list can be emotionally taxing, so doing it right the first time is important. Learn how to write a pros and cons list at HealthyPlace.

A pros and cons list can be a wonderful tool to help with decision-making. However, many people struggle with identifying the advantages and disadvantages of a decision. Read this article to learn how to create an effective pros and cons list.

Why I Decided to Write a Pros and Cons List

A few months ago, I was accepted into a Transitional Living Program (TLP) ("Finding Group Homes for Mentally Ill Adults"). This was an offer I had been wanting for a long time. While I was very happy to have been accepted, I was nervous. I started to think about the what-ifs: "What if I cannot get transportation to work?" "What if the program interferes with my work schedule?" "What if I will not get along with my roommate?" "What if I do not make any friends?"

Thinking about all of the what-ifs only made me think about the cons of accepting the offer. I knew that in order to make a sound decision, I needed to think about the pros.

After writing my own pros and cons list, I want to share some ways you can write one too.

What to Do Before You Start Writing a List

Writing a pros and cons list can be very time-consuming and emotionally taxing. So it is important to ensure that you are in the proper mindset to start creating your list. Follow these two steps before you start making a list about all of the pros and cons.

  1. Clearly identify what you are trying to decide by asking a question. Before you come up with a list of pros and cons, it is important to write down exactly what you are trying to decide. By writing down a question, you are allowing yourself to explore the pros and cons of saying yes. In my case, I started with the question "Should I participate in the Transitional Living Program?"
  2. Decide how important and/or timely the decision will be. Some decisions are more critical than others. For example, if a woman gets pregnant unexpectedly, she must decide whether to go through with the pregnancy or get an abortion. This is very critical, as she has limited time to decide. If a couple is engaged to get married, setting a wedding date is not as crucial. A pros and cons list should be used for the most important and/or timely decisions first.

How to Write the List

  1. Acknowledge not everything is black and white. Remember that there is not always a correct or incorrect decision. Even though your decision might have some negative consequences, it might have some positive consequences as well. Making an important decision can be very scary, but you might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome ("Overcome Anxiety and Fear of the Unknown").
  2. Remember the number of pros and cons should not determine your decision. Even if you think of more pros than cons for your decision, keep in mind that the effect they have on your life is more important. My list about the Transitional Living Program contained more cons than pros. The biggest pro that led me to join the program was that my mental health would improve. So even though I had a lot of cons, I joined the program.
  3. If you have a lot of time to make a decision, take time to revise your list. No matter how much time you have to make a decision, time is valuable. Circumstances change. If you think of a pro and/or con for your future decision, write it down. The more often you write down your pros and cons, the easier it will be to reach a final decision.

APA Reference
Lueck, M. (2018, December 10). How to Write a Pros and Cons List for Decision-Making, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2018/12/how-to-write-a-pros-and-cons-list-for-decision-making-1



Author: Martha Lueck

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