PACED Decision Making

When you have to make a choice, how do you decide what to do? Your choices will work out better if you think about them instead of just letting them happen.

What are the steps to follow when you make a decision? You can use the word PACED to help you remember the steps.

P = Step 1: Define the Problem

Why do you have to make a choice? What is the situation? Example:

You are moving to a new city, and you need to choose an apartment.

A = Step 2: List the Alternatives

What are your possible choices? Example:

• one-bedroom apartment on Main Street
• one-bedroom apartment on Peaceful Lane
• two-bedroom apartment on Distant Place

C = Step 3: Determine the Criteria (rules for evaluating or testing options)

What makes one option better than another? What are the important things to think about? Example:

• rent
• noise
• safety
• public transportation

E = Step 4: Evaluate the Alternatives

How well does each option meet the criteria your chose in step 3? Example:

• How much can I afford?
• Is the street busy?
• How much crime happens in the neighborhood?
• How long will it take to get to work or school? How easy is it to get the bus from there?

D = Step 5: Make the Decision

Which option is the best for you right now? Right down the alternative you chose and why you chose it.

If you follow steps 1-4, you will be able to make a good decision. Here is a blank PACED decision-making grid (PDF) for you to print out.

Sample PACED Decision-Making Grid

The Problem: You are moving to a new city, and you need an apartment

Alternatives Criteria
Rent Noise Safety Public transportation
one-bedroom apartment on Main Street \$800/month Noisy, lots of traffic some crime on bus line, frequent service
one-bedroom apartment on Peaceful Lane \$900/month Quiet, some traffic a little crime bus line several blocks away, service limited
two-bedroom apartment on Distant Place \$850/month very quiet, almost no traffic almost no crime no public transportation

The Decision: Which one would work best for you?

What will you do the next time you need to make a decision? Use the PACED decision-making process. You can print out the PACED decision-making grid (PDF) to use whenever you need to make an important decision.