“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” — Tony Robbins
Do you struggle to make decisions?
You may feel so concerned about making the wrong choice that you don’t make any choice at all. I firmly believe that but by doing this, you actually do make a decision: you decide not to choose any path or destination! No decision is a decision.
The typical way of coming to a decision involves attempting to compare the future consequences of each of the possible actions. But really how do you know the future, how can you realistically make a decision based on “possible” outcomes?
The first challenge lies in attempting to predict the future; it’s tough to have any real accuracy. The second challenge is that the more important and serious we believe the issue to be, the more likely we are to become paralyzed. Yet, these big issues are the ones that really require a decision and a direction. Ultimately, making decisions this way can be difficult. Indecision can feel paralyzing.
Can there be a Better Way?
Try this on for size, see how it feels differently from the last method. Instead of looking at a long-term point in the future, try considering just the impact on your life and your well-being now – right here, right now, in the present moment.
Two simple questions to ask yourself:
- If I selected this option, how would it impact my life right now?
- What changes would I experience immediately?
Suppose you had a job that you didn’t really care for, but the money was good and you didn’t have to work very hard to get it. But you really wanted to be a teacher. The thought of teaching middle school English always appealed to you, and you’d love having the summers available to do something other than work your usual job.
Let’s think about this a little:
If I selected this option, what impact would it have on my life right now? What changes would I experience immediately?
- Stay at old job: I would feel trapped. I would feel very little hope that in the future I could have an enjoyable career.
- Become a teacher: I would feel hopeful about the future and excited at the prospect of spending my days in a more enjoyable way.
Now it is so much easier to see what option will feel better, will enhance your life and lead you to greater personal satisfaction.
Present Moment Impact
When you look only at the impact your decision making have in the present moment, you get to the heart of the matter very quickly. The very fact that you’re stuck to begin with and can’t make up your mind means that you’re having a difficult time choosing one over the other. So if there’s no obvious winner, choose the option that’s the most fulfilling to you.
By taking the future out of the equation and simply making a decision, you can move forward and spend your energy taking action to make your decision work out the very best it can. This is a much more effective and enjoyable way to live.
Additional Strategies to make decisions less stressful
- Let go a little. You don’t have to be the best or be perfect all of the time.
- Look at the big picture. So many times we get caught up in all the small details that we really loose sight of the big picture.
- Take a break. Take a yoga class, go on a run or meditate. Let your mind relax and allow your subconsciousness do the work for you.
- Intuition. Simply go with your gut. Sometimes your first instinct is the one that will lead you in the right direction.
- Non-Permanent. Remember that many of our decisions are not permanent, they are just phases in our lives and things will change.
- Choose to live from your heart. Allowing your heart to guide you will ensure that you know you are moving forward for your greater good.
Additional Action Steps to make decisions more manageable
Checklists to free your Mind
Creating checklists for routine and everyday tasks can free your mind and lower your stress levels. I use checklists often, it allows me to breathe easy, I’m never stressing that I am forgetting something. Once your checklist is ready you don’t need to spend time deciding to do A or B, you will know that you will do B after you have completed A.
Block your Time
Set aside a specific block of time for making your decision. Pick a location where you will not be disturbed. Set a timer. Give yourself enough time, but be careful about using too much as you will turn the session into an unproductive procrastination session.
Limit your choices
Quickly rule out choices not suitable. Pick 2-3 choices that interesting and part of your life plan or vision. This allows to you eliminate unnecessary information overload and will help you analyze choices quicker.
Right-size, right decision
Putting the right amount of effort into your decision making will help you make faster decisions and with less stress. Making the decision about “what’s for dinner?” and making the decision about “where to go to college?” both deserve the appropriate amount of time and effort. Understand that smaller decisions don’t need to be made into large ones because you are feeling “stuck”.
Create a Support System
Put together a group of friends and family that can assist with the big decisions. You could also opt to join a Mastermind group, a group of peers that can offer you an objective view and a new prospective on your decisions.
Delegate the Small Stuff
Whether it is around the house or at the office, there are some things that you can definitely pass on to other people. Think about the things that can easily be shifted to other family members or assistants. Allow these people to learn the art of decision making for themselves, help prepare them for bigger decisions.
Put some or all of these strategies into practice for fighting stress while making decisions, and you will see real changes in every area of your life. You will see the levels of stress decrease, you will see that decisions become easier to make each time.
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