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3 Things to Keep in Mind When Making Decisions

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Making Decisions

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.

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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.

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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.

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DIY Decisions

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.

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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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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