Ranking Our Values to Decide

Marquitta was born with a physical condition that required her to use a wheelchair and rely on personal aids each morning and evening. Independent and strong, she went away to college, living on her own in Philadelphia for more than eight years while she completed her undergraduate and graduate course work.

After graduation, her brother begged her to move near him in North Carolina, where the weather was warm and the professional community young and active. Marquitta was torn. While she was ready for change, she knew she needed solid medical support and daily care. She had built a network of reliable and trusted doctors and nurses in Philadelphia.

She called her mom. “OK, well, let’s start at the top.” Her mom just happened to be a decision analysis professional. “Let’s not think about staying or going. Let’s talk about what’s really important to you. What do you really value in your life and want to have in your life for you to be happy.”

Marquitta ticked off her list. Then, she and her mom narrowed it down to the top six:

  • A job that she liked and found engaging and meaningful
  • Access to good, trusted, affordable medical care
  • A social life
  • Outdoor activities she could participate in
  • Being comfortable, so that she could pay her bills and still have money to save and spend
  • Being close to family

They ranked them in order of importance. Then, they outlined three options: stay in Philadelphia, move to North Carolina, or return home to California.

Against each option, they weighed the likelihood that each of Marquitta’s values would be fulfilled.

California fell off the list right away as it scored low in affordable care and job opportunities. Plus, the heavy traffic and long commute times would starkly impact activities outside of work.

Staying in Philadelphia, Marquitta would be comfortable and cared for, but she was not happy as she was alone most of the time.

Marquitta decided to move. She had thought that her need for medical care outweighed all other considerations. The thought had truly frozen her thinking. “Until,” her mom said, “we pulled out the weight-and-rate chart.”


(Special thanks to the Society of Decision Professionals, for sharing personal stories from their members—experts in the field and also parents, spouses, friends, and family-members.)

Learn more about how to use a Weight and Rate Chart.

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