Do you ever struggle with decision making? I think we all do but some struggle more than others, such as those who have perfectionistic tendencies or those who lack self-confidence. Every day we are faced with making decisions that start early in our day – what time should I wake up, what should I wear, what should I eat for breakfast, etc. Food decisions alone count for over 200 decisions while we can face between 5,000 to 10,000 decisions over the course of a day. Decisions are not just major ones but also ones that encompass how we think and act.
Struggling with making a life decision, such as find the ‘right’ career, can keep you unable to make a decision which will leave you feeling frustrated, guilty, and emotionally depleted. Every day will feel like a struggle as to which is the right path to go – eventually you will go nowhere except right where you are. Indecision is the biggest enemy to going after your dream job (or any other desire).
If you want to stop the cycle, the first thing to do is to limit the time you spend thinking about a decision, such as 5 -10 minutes, and the second thing is to give yourself a deadline for making it. One will stop the worry-cycle while the other will give you focus and motivation to get it done. So if you are struggling and feel like you are in a rut, take the decision you are facing, know what you are facing by writing it down and then let it go. Often, you might find the answer will come more easily.
As we are winding the last few days of August, we are now facing the last 4 months of the year. While this can be exciting to create new opportunities, this can also elicit feelings of fear out of making those dreams a reality. Some of this may involve some major life changes which comes with big decisions, all of which will greatly impact your life. If you find yourself struggling with making a big decision, here are some quick steps to think about:
- really understand the ‘why’ of making the change – this is the need to let go of something that has not been working and wanting to go after what will; if you’re not clear on this then you will be held back
- recognize what is actually holding you back – is it the fear of change or making the wrong decision; it is worry over money or involves other people; do you actually believe you can make the change – resolving these will help propel you forward
- do the research – knowing everything about the proposed decision will help you be more informed; you can do this by researching on the internet, talking to people who have experienced the same change, or seeking help from a coach who can help and support you in making the best informed decision
Only with enough self-awareness and knowledge can one make a decision that feels ‘right’ which leads to acting to get the desired result. Using the simple exercise of taking a piece of paper and writing down the pros/cons of all areas is helpful, as well as using the principles of the Six Thinking Hats, where you list out what the best result, the worst, result, what is known, what needs to be known and then using your creativity to uncover any ideas listed are helpful tools in decision-making, Another is having trust in yourself and and using the ‘voice’ inside (your intuition) as you guide.
We live so much with regret these days, which I think is why we have a lot of unhappy people. Those who did not fulfill the resolutions that were set at the beginning of the new year, or those who began but never finished them must live with the consequences of these inactions. For others, it’s staying in the job they despise or stalling on taking that business idea to reality. These ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’s will deplete one’s soul; living with the emotional consequences of these regrets will be difficult to live with throughout one’s life if not addressed. Taking responsibility for your actions is the only way to not live with regret, but it is possible to prevent yourself from having this strong feeling in the first place.
This question is very powerful and one that can inspire and motivate you to get off your duff and take action now. If you kept this question in mind at all times, you would never, or almost never, make a decision that will lead you off-course. It can lead you to the ‘right’ answer when you are facing a hard decision; you will then have the ability to weigh the consequences if you do not follow through. The time does not have to be a year; it can be shortened to six months, thirty days or whatever time-frame works.
To give you an example, say John has been unhappy in his current job; he stays because he is unsure of what else is ‘out there,’ he needs the money and secretly wonders if things could improve if only _____ (you fill in the blank). Unfortunately, John has been feeling this way for years. He has been afraid to change his situation. However, if John were to work on answering this question, it might help him to realize that his situation will never change until he does something to change it; he can be in the same place again next year or he can design the one he wants. John would feel motivated to not live the way he has that he would plan and execute the steps to change his situation. The “work” he would have to do would seem less paralyzing; keeping that question in mind would be all that is needed.
When used at all times, it can work for you, too! So, what will you change so you do not have to live with regret?
Every day we are faced with making decisions: what time should I get up, what will I wear or what will I eat for breakfast. These are simple decisions that we usually don’t put too much emphasis on. But most people have a really difficult time taking a stand on one side of an issue, particularly if it involves a major impact in either ours, or someone else’s life. It cmight be deciding if you should end a relationship or if you should leave your current job. It could be something less impactful, but still important, like making a ‘big’ purchase; I remember how difficult it was for me to buy a computer as there were so many options, prices, etc. that I drug it out for several months.
When one can’t make a decision, it says two things: 1. that they don’t trust themselves enough to know what is – or isn’t- right for them, and 2. they can’t live with the consequence of that decision. Along with that may come the deserve level – do I deserve to have what they are wrestling with. There has to come a time when one has to take the leap and make a stand, which means picking one option. Even though the decision can feel scary, not doing so can lead to deep feelings of regret that one may never recover from.
There are several ways to go about making decisions:
1. The old Pros & Cons list – take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle; on one side, write Pros and the other Cons and then list your reasons for what you want under each. Look for themes or to see which side outweighs the other.
2. The Six Thinking Hats – this is a widely-known tool where each ‘hat’ helps you to look at a situation from different perspectives. For instance, the yellow hat is the best or most positive outcome; the white hat involves the facts and data and can involve past outcomes to base your decision on; and the black hat is the worst outcome that could occur.
Life is always about making a decision, whether big or small. If you can’t decide then a fear is in place and it goes back to either not trusting yourself or not being able to live with the outcome. Using one of the two ‘tools’ I suggested can help to make a better decision. But it starts with taking a stand and making the leap.