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4 Things You Need To Be Aware Of When You Make Difficult Life Decisions

4 Things You Need To Be Aware Of When You Make Difficult Life Decisions

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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