Making difficult life decisions can be a daunting task. There are many dimensions you must take into account and pitfalls around every corner. However, rather than becoming paralyzed with fear, follow these sound decision-making insights and make the best possible decisions you can to improve your life and the lives of those who depend on you.
1. Value is Relative
Just how much is that gallon of water worth anyway?
Interestingly enough, most of us wouldn’t think that a gallon of water was worth all that much–unless we were trapped in the desert and dying of thirst. Then it might be much more valuable, maybe even worth a few hundred bucks or your left arm? The value that we place on something revolves around what our personal situation is at the time, meaning that while water is water is water no matter where you are or what you are facing, the value we place on it depends solely on how badly we need it.
So why does this matter when it comes to making important life decision? Because we are the only people who truly understand the value of our decisions in our lives. Sure, we want to know what others think about our situations, but following others’ advice without understanding the value of the result in our own opinion can and often does lead to disastrous results. Solicit others’ opinions, but always make your own decisions.
2. What do You Want to Come Out of Your Decision?
This one is a little bit harder because it means that we have to accept that there are no “good” or “bad” decisions, only consequences. The outcome of a decision rests solely on the person experiencing it. In order to obtain a “good” outcome to a decision, you have to know what you want, meaning that you have to have a goal.
You need to have a clear picture of the road you want to be on when making the choice to follow either path. Then, you have to make a decision that will help you realize that goal rather than making a decision and then trying to figure out where you are headed.
3. Accept That the Outcome of Your Decision Will Only be as Good as the Effort You Put in.
When we make decisions, we often think about it as an analytical process: pros vs. cons. We think that if we do it right, we will ultimately obtain the best outcome. We think that as long as we spend a requisite number of hours thinking about making the right decision, then we will ultimately be rewarded for making a great decision.
However, the truth is that no matter how much effort you put into weighing all the alternatives and analyzing your situation, no outcome can be considered positive unless you follow through with your decision. No amount of analysis or systematic thinking will change that.
Before jumping in and making a decision, generate alternatives and determine what decision you are capable of living with. And then commit to your decision and commit to its success. Here are a couple of quick tips to help you focus your commitment and energy:
- Pay attention to “hard” decisions. When you find yourself in a stalemate between two choices, odds are that the outcomes are so similar that in the end, the actual decision doesn’t really matter. Either way you’ll experience the same result no matter which path you choose, so spend less time agonizing over the decision and more time implementing.
- Agree on a decision deadline. Don’t paralyze your life by stalling on important decision. Rather, set a deadline and stick to it. Make an agreement with yourself to make a decision by a certain day/time and then meet that deadline. If you find yourself still stuck, then toss a coin and follow through.
4. Taking a Logical Approach Can Help
Making great decisions is a process. You have to use a number of thinking modes to come to the best possible solution for you. You have to be open to being creative and non-judgmental during the early stages of that process all the while understanding that you need to be judgmental in the later stages. Switching thinking modes at the critical points of the process will help you make up your mind and be satisfied with the results of your decision. It is during these final stages of the process that it helps many decision makers to make a list of pros and cons to weigh the impacts of the decision.
As a wise decision-maker, you will quickly learn how to place value on alternative outcomes. The closer outcomes are, the less valuable the decision. Realize that if alternatives are very close to each other in value, it matters less which one you picks. You should save your energy for more important decisions–those with very different payoffs.