Getting Unstuck

The Matrix Approach

Using Rows and Columns to Move Through Gridlock

By Rick Benzel | Updated July 7, 2018

When your getting stuck involves indecision or an inability to choose from among what seem to be too many good ideas, the best solution may be the Matrix Approach. This solution is based on resorting to logic to evaluate your ideas and choose the best one according to a set of criteria you develop. The name of the approach refers to the fact that you construct a "matrix" or grid, with rows and columns in table format. In each column, you write one of the ideas you have, and in each row, you list one of the criteria that will help you decide the best choice. For example, if you are writing a non-fiction book and you are trying to decide whether to write a book based on, for example, 7 steps to better health, 30 days to better health, or 10 secrets to better health, you would need a matrix consisting of 3 columns. Then in the rows, you would list criteria such as names of competing books in Row 1, spin-off opportunities for each title in Row 2, the editor's preference in Row 3, and so on.

The Matrix Approach, in theory, can help you get unstuck by simply checking off which column and row intersection makes the most logical sense. Then you can count up the X's and see which decision wins. However, given that art is not science, the Matrix Approach often requires a level of subjective analysis and feeling that might lead you back toward your quagmire. You could end up with a grid that has X's everywhere — and you're back at indecision.

Nevertheless, the Matrix Approach can prove useful when you have a large number of choices because, at the very least, it can help you eliminate a few lesser choices from the crowd so you can focus on just the one or two best ones. In this way, the Matrix Approach can help you get out the quicksand a little faster and without as much pain as you might have experienced.

Next: The Spiritual Approach

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