Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.
If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.
Now, let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.
1. Realize the Power of Decision Making
Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.
Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.
But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.
2. Go with Your Gut
Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.
Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.
Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.
3. Carry Your Decision Out
When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.
What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.
If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.
4. Tell Others About Your Decisions
There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.
For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.
Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.
5. Learn from Your Past Decisions
Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”
The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.
Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?
Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.
6. Maintain a Flexible Approach
I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.
For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.
Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.
7. Have Fun Making Decisions
Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.
Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.
Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?
Bonus: 4 Reminders When Making Life Choices
1. Take the Time to Reflect
Once in a while, wherever you are in life, take the time to either sit with pen and paper or be alone on a walk or somewhere quiet and ask yourself some questions.
Da Vinci reportedly would ask 100’s of questions of himself. Not necessarily answer his own questions but pose them for consideration. I often do this with clients because it enables you to get past the initial surface thoughts to access the deep-rooted ideas that are really causing the issues/obstacles and beliefs that are holding you back.
Ask yourself questions like these:
- What do I love about my job?
- What do I love about my life?
- Do I love living here?
- Do I feel like I make enough time for me and what do I like to do with my time?
- If I was to write down the emotions I experience each week, would I describe them as mostly positive, mostly negative or a balance of both? What impacts on that?
- How do I respond to criticism?
- Am I good at telling people what I think?
- What do I feel holds me back?
- What would I love to achieve but fear doing and why do I feel I fear it?
The more questions you can ask the better. Remember this is not about knowing the answers or answering according to what you know or trust you can do, so be honest with yourself.
3. llenge Your Own Beliefs
Challenge yourself to ask if your beliefs serve you well or hinder your success and happiness.
Are your beliefs keeping you comfortably in a comfort zone so that you don’t have to face what it is your fear?
Or do your beliefs challenge you to go for things even if you fear them a little?
Challenging Tanya on her beliefs helped her to see, acknowledge and accept what her beliefs were doing to her. Once she could see, acknowledge and accept her beliefs and their impact, then she was in a position to take responsibility for them and change. You can’t change permanently until you go through this process.
This led Tanya to another very important reminder for us all. Changing paths is allowed. If you liked being a teacher or a graphic designer and now want to be a Police Officer or a journalist, that’s fine. It is scary to make changes and choose a different path but to help you actually do this, remember this question:
“If I agree to staying like this, then what am I agreeing to?”
It’s so powerful I use it on myself too!
Often, clients realize with this question that they are agreeing to not getting what they want – and no one wants that, so it’s a great motivator.
You don’t need to know how you are going to achieve it, but you do need to know you want to do it.
3. Accept Disagreements
If you think you are confident to be yourself and share what you really think, post an unpopular opinion on social media (not an offensive, derogatory comment, just something you don’t like.) I did this recently (I’m happy to connect so that when you give this a go, you can tag me) and asked people to share their unpopular opinions.
I just posted that I don’t like a certain cookery programme that airs here in the UK – The Great British Bake Off. I just don’t get why you’d watch a bunch of people mixing up ingredients to make a cake and then watch 3 hyper critical judges tell you your cake has a soggy bottom. While my post had lots of likes, laughs and loves, not even a quarter of people that liked the post commented. What does this tell you and what has this to do with Tom?
Within a week of that post wherever I went someone would say “I saw that post, my unpopular view is…..” I asked all of these people “Why didn’t you post your view on my post?” To which I heard replies like:
- “I didn’t want to offend anyone.
- “I can’t post like you do.”
- “It’s not appropriate to do that.”
- “It could damage my reputation.”
- “You know what people are like.”
Headline news folks, saying you don’t like Christmas jumpers or Elvis is not against the law. While some may not agree with you, ultimately, nice humans accept that with billions of people on the planet, we aren’t going to agree on everything.
4. Look Forward
People need to spend less time looking back at what has happened and spend more time planning where they want to go.
We created a long list of everything that could need to be done to set up Tina’s business, then we broke that down into a time line to enable them to see the priorities.
So many people try to get to the end of a to do list not appreciating there will always be something new on the to do list.
It’s not about clearing the to do list, it’s about owning it. And to do that, you need to have a clearly defined plan. Consider everything you could do to make that difficult decision or powerful life choice and then, narrow that down to the absolute priorities.
Do not deviate and lastly, only ever have 3 to 5 actions on your to do list. Clear them and you can add the next 3 to 5.
Tina didn’t just set up her own business, it went from kitchen table to her own offices with staff within 2 years! Spend less time looking back and wondering, and more time focusing on what you really want and creating the plan to get you there.
Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.
Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.
Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com