Use The Military Decision Making Process to Hack Your Life

Caleb McCary
5 min readApr 26, 2018

I’m sure it has happened to you. Life happens and you face down a major decision that is going to have long lasting ramifications for the present and the future. You sit down and you turn the options over and over in your mind. Maybe you lose some sleep. Maybe you get an extra wrinkle or two as you try to ensure that the right decision is made. Even after you’ve already made the decision you look back and wonder if there is some sort of lifehack that could make the process of thinking through major decisions easier and more predictable.

You are in luck. For a long time the United States Army has recognized the value of having a formal and predictable method for analyzing a mission (problem), thinking through it from every angle, and then creating and executing a well-planned and well-resourced mission order. An Army staff that is well-versed in MDMP can use the process for everything from planning troop morale days to executing exceedingly complex missions in combat.

A Soldier stands watch during a rotation at the National Training Center

This formal method of decision making helps ensure that multiple options get put on the table, that all the planning factors are considered, and that positive and negative repercussions of certain decisions are all weighed prior to executing a mission. If that sounds like it would be a helpful framework for making major life decisions, I would agree.

So let’s walk through MDMP for a hypothetical situation that will illustrate how you can apply this proven process to everyday life. For our situation a man named Joe has just been informed by his wife, Jody, that they are expecting a third child. Jody tells Joe that the subcompact car they’ve been driving can’t fit three carseats across in the back seat so they need to look for a larger vehicle. Jody doesn’t really care what kind of vehicle so long as it has three rows of seats.

  1. Receipt of Mission — Joe’s mission is to find a three row vehicle
  2. Mission Analysis — Joe starts researching three row vehicles. He logs onto car review and comparison sites like Edmunds or KBB. He digs into statistics like cargo room when the third row is in place. He reads reviews from professionals and consumers. He looks at things gas mileage and ownership cost. Periodically he will bring a question to his wife based on his research to…
Caleb McCary

Experienced Chaplain. Photography Enthusiast. Lover of learning. Reader of books. Sci-Fi fan.