“The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.” – Lisa Wingate
It is no surprise that everyone struggles with the decision-making process from time to time. If you are trying to:
- choose where you want to live
- decide whether to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend
- decide whether to finish your master or just drop out
- decide which job offer to accept or
- set up your own business,
then you know what we are talking about. Big life decisions scare us. We either avoid the situation where we have to decide on something and we rather pass the decision-making responsibility to someone else or we just go with whichever option, without any careful thinking.
How to make sound decisions when they are really hard to make? Here are some tips for your consideration:
1. List the pros and cons.
First, list all your available options (sometimes there will be only those two that give you a headache and that is already enough). Now is the time to estimate what are the pros and cons of each of them. Create a spreadsheet if need be. You may also include qualities and rankings in the table should you want something more sophisticated. In most of the cases, a simple table of pros and cons will do. Sometimes we just need to picture what we have in mind and in this case graphics helps.
2. Think about the advice you would give your best friend.
Being objective is always hard. Plus, you might be too focused on your two options and not see the solution coming along. Changing perspective might be a good thing to try. Think of the problem as if it wasn’t yours. What advice would you give your best friend? Consider the facts. This exercise will help you detach from emotions for a moment.
3. Cut off the amount of information.
Sounds weird? Well, it is said that the more the options, the more difficult it is to take the decision. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the possible choices we have. The problem seems small when we stand in front of 10 pair of shoes and need to buy just this one pair. But what if it’s a big life decision? We might postpone the decision-making process forever and carry on living with the current situation as a “default” one, all stressed. Agreed, it is not always the worst case but, obviously, we may be living a better life, at least without stress that is!
So stop reading so much about the topic and limit the number of your friends you talk to about your problem. Focus on the most important aspects.
4. Visualize the options.
This certainly requires a bit of mental gymnastics but believe us, it’s a very good exercise. It helps you see the future after you have made your choice. Imagine your life after you have gone with option A. What does it look like? Are you happy? Are your closest ones happy? How do you feel with that choice? Has your life changed for better or worse? Now do the same with option B. Or C and D, if there are more options available to you. Pick the option which is closer to your heart. You will know which one.
5. Flip the coin.
No, we are not crazy. Flipping the coin will simply help you realize how you feel about a certain option. If you are sad and angry because the coin fell heads-up and you find yourself flipping it again, then… you know the answer! :)
MOST DECISIONS CAN BE UNDONE. And this is probably the most important sentence we wanted you to read here. Remember there’s always a way to undo things. So don’t stress yourself :)