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PACED Decision Making

When you have to make a choice, how do you decide what to do? Your choices will work out better for you 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.


Step 1: Define the Problem
Why do you have to make a choice? Example:
You are moving to a new city, and you need to choose an apartment.


Step 2: List the Alternatives
What are my possible choices? Example:

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


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


Step 4: Evaluate the alternatives
How well does each option meet the criteria? 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?


Step 5: Make the Decision
Which option is the best for me right now?
If you follow steps 1-4, you will be able to make a good decision. Here is a blank PACED decision-making grid (10KB, 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

Apartment TypeCriteria
AlternativesRentNoiseSafetyPublic transportation
one-bedroom apartment on Main Street$800/monthnoisy – lots of trafficsome crimeon bus line - frequent service
one-bedroom apartment on Peaceful Lane$900/monthquiet – some traffica little crimebus line several blocks away – service limited
two-bedroom apartment on Distant Place$850/monthvery quiet – almost no trafficalmost no crimeno 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 (10KB, PDF) to use whenever you need to make an important decision.