We are all faced with decisions to make at various times in our lives. From small ones with few consequences to huge, life-changing ones, here are three things I have learned about making good decisions.
Making No Decision is Still a Decision
Sometimes, we can feel particularly paralyzed about making a decision, and can end up postponing and procrastinating on it until it is “made for us.” This is a terrible cop-out; even when you choose not to make a decision, you are making it anyway. Leaving something to fate is not as random as you think — and stepping back from the act of deciding makes you feel out of control, passive, and disempowered. You might even avoid a decision so you can play the victim later, a role that is never proactive or helpful for your personal growth.
So, when you feel like procrastinating on a decision, stop and think about why you are tempted to do that. Remind yourself that choosing to make no decision is, in fact, the worst decision of all. Whatever other choice you make, it will be better than making none at all.
The Pro and Con Game
One of the simplest decision-making methods is to make a list of pros and cons. Although the method seems obvious and can sometimes help you make a decision, you can also use this process to learn more about yourself and your true motivations.
As you write the pros and cons, ask yourself how you feel. Do you already feel like you are leaning in one direction or another? Is one part of you trying to convince another part of you what to do? Do you feel yourself “stacking the deck” in one direction or another? Are you trying to con yourself? Why do you think you might be doing that? Are you trying to avoid one particular course of action because of a fear? Would it actually be better to face that fear, take the bold steps, and be courageous?
Often when we feel most paralyzed about a decision, that is when we are faced with the greatest opportunity to face our fears. It is scary, so no wonder you feel paralyzed, but to overcome this fear will change who you are… and will change your life. Tap into your subconscious to gain access to personal, perfect insight.
Often, we like to help each other make decisions — offer our point of view, seek others’ perspectives, and bounce ideas around. We might even feel like we must get others’ input, which is fine for minor choices. For important life decisions, it is very important to make up your own mind with minimal, selective help from others.
My husband recently faced a major career change, and the decision to act on the opportunity that presented itself was a hard one. I listened and offered a few alternative points of view, but stopped myself before I became too influential. It was his decision to make, and although my life would change greatly based on that decision, if I persuaded him to go one way or another, I knew I would be interfering. I also realized that if the career didn’t turn out to be as great as he thought, he might be tempted to blame me for pushing him into it. It wasn’t easy staying out of it, so to speak, and I had to bite my tongue many times when I wanted to ask if he had sent in his application yet. In my heart, I knew it was a great career for him, but he needed to make the decision and take action on his own initiative.
Very few people operate in life with no agenda. When you ask people to help you make a decision, they might not be able to leave their own agenda behind. They might even have the best intentions, but be unable or unaware that they are influencing you inappropriately. You cannot abdicate your responsibility for the decisions you make — for your life — to someone else. Use whatever decision-making tools you like, but be careful not to let too many people weigh in on your decision.
Featured photo credit: Head to head – knights on a chess board via Shutterstock