What do you do when faced with a big decision to which you don’t know the answer?
Do you opt for the middle road that marginally meets everyone’s needs? Do you sacrifice your needs for others? Do you randomly pick an option, and simply hope for the best? Do you pick what seems to be the most logical, even though you are not 100% sure?
Today, I have three decision making methods to help you break out of any dilemma.
Method #1: Fast Forward Method
The first method is the fast forward method. Here, you mentally project yourself into the future, a.k.a. “fast forward” your life, and contemplate this decision from this future point in time.
How to Apply
- Consider a decision you are facing right now. It can be a small or big decision. It can be regarding your friends, your love life, your career, your business, your health, and so on.
- What are the main options you are considering with respect to this decision? Write them down.
Now that you are done, review the following steps:
- Mentally fast forward to one year into the future.
- What would your life be like in each option? Be as detailed as possible.
- Which option would you want to be living a year from today? Why?
(If you wish, redo the exercise with two different time frames: (b) Three years (c) Five years. You should get the same answer. If not, try to understand why.)
Example #1: Quit Job or Later?
The biggest decision I had to make up till my mid-20s was whether to (a) quit my day job right away to pursue my passion to help others grow or (b) work for a couple more years before quitting to rake in more savings. The first option would bring me fulfillment because I would get to pursue my passion right away. The second one would put me in a calmer state of mind regarding my finances, since I wasn’t expecting any income in the initial phase of my business.
Initially I was unable to decide because both options had their pros and cons. Each one would aid me in some manner with regards to pursuing my passion.
When I fast forwarded myself one year into the future though, the answer instantly revealed itself, “Quit right away and pursue my passion.” There was not even a moment of hesitation or doubt.
Reason being that even if I were to pursue my passion and make little progress after one year, two years, or even three years, I would still be making more progress than if I continued working in my day job. Every extra day I stayed on at my day job meant delaying the pursuit of my passion by another day, and subsequently delaying the realization of my dreams.
By adopting a future perspective, it removed me from my present situation, which helped me to evaluate the decision more consciously. What might have seemed crucial from a three to six month time frame melted away when I looked at the situation from a one-, three-, and five-year point of view. I was able to see the things that really mattered vs. the things that might seem important in the short term but did not matter in the long run.
Method #2: Ideal Vision Method
Albert Einstein once said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” If you want to break out of your current problem, you need to adopt a different frame of mind – the mind of someone who has achieved your ideal vision. This is what I call the Ideal Vision Method.
How to Apply
Consider a decision you are facing now. (You can use the same decision from the previous exercise.)
- Think about your ideal vision with respect to this area of your life.
- Imagine you are living in your ideal vision right now. What would the You in your ideal vision do in this scenario?
Example #2: Start My Own Venture or Join My Friend’s Venture?
Let’s say your good friend is starting a new business and he invites you to join him as a partner. However, you are in the middle of starting your own business at the moment. This is an idea you’re very passionate about and you’ve been meaning to do it for a long time.
Either venture will take up a considerable amount of your time and it’ll be tough to manage both at the same time.
Using the Ideal Vision Method, you create your ideal vision for your career. As it turns out, your vision is to turn your passion into your career. You want your business to be renowned in its industry. You also want to earn a substantial income from your business every month, which is a natural consequence of being really good in what you do.
As the You in your ideal vision, it becomes clear that you have to reject your friend and focus your efforts on your business.
While the opportunity with your friend looks tempting at the present moment, it’s only going to divert your attention from realizing your passion. You know that success, learning opportunities, and business networks are all things that will come your way as you succeed in your venture.
Method #3: Heart Method
The last method, the Heart Method, taps into a fundamental core of what makes us who we are – our hearts. You can also think of this as listening to your gut or intuition.
How to Apply
Consider a decision you are facing right now. (You can use the same situation as the previous exercise.)
Now, close your eyes. Clear your mind. Think about nothing but this particular decision you are facing.
Listen to your heart. What is your heart telling you? What is it gravitating toward? That’s your answer.
Example #3: Reconnect with a Friend Who Betrayed You?
Let’s say you have a friend, B, who betrayed you before. You have been unable to forgive him for that incident. Because of that, both of you split ways. There was a point after you split ways when he tried to reconnect with you, but you ignored him as you couldn’t forgive him.
Recently, something came up that you need his help for because of his background in the subject matter. There are two paths you can take here: Reconnect with him or seek help somewhere else.
It’s not necessary for you to reconnect with him because there are other people you can approach; plus it’ll be awkward to talk to him again after all these years. Not only that, you still feel resentful for what he has done. Logically, you should just approach someone else.
As you listen to your heart, it tells you to put this resentment behind you and reach out to him. Not because you need his help, but because holding on to the resentment is silly. You are hurting nobody but yourself. He has reached out to you before, which means he has already taken the first step; yet you are still being an *ss by refusing to accept his connection.
Your heart also says that your connections in life are more important than any motivations or agendas you may have. Love, not hatred, not fear, is the key to living a happy life. You can go about living your daily life as if none of this is relevant to you, but it does not deny the fact that you are still resentful toward him and you are denying your connection with him because of that. This resentment that you carry around you will only make you a weary soul. It pulls you down; it doesn’t lift you up.
Forgive him and reconnect with him, not for him, but for yourself; for the salvation of your soul. Love him as you would yourself. Stop viewing him with tainted glasses; instead, give him a fresh chance.
Sometimes, you may get an answer you don’t like from these three methods. It’s possible that the answer isn’t something you want to take on right away. It’s possible that you don’t even want to think about it.
There are times when I get answers that I don’t like from my own methods. However, it doesn’t change the fact that there is some truth behind them. Actually, a lot of truth.
I’ve found, from experience, that it’s only when I stop running and embrace the truth that I really begin to resolve my problems. Remember, faulty thinking leads to faulty solutions, which perpetuates our problems. To solve our problems, we need to approach them from a different place.
Perhaps the final thing I want to add is that when it comes to making life decisions, you shouldn’t make them based on what’s best from the current circumstance. To do so would be to compromise on your real wants. Rather, use the three methods to figure out what you really want, then find the way to get there. Your WHAT should come before your HOW, not the other way round.
I hope you’ve found this article useful. What you decide to do is up to you and it’s your decision to make. Decision making is never easy, but it’s when we make up our minds that we move forward in life.
This article is about tackling life’s biggest dilemmas. For day-to-day decision making, read How to Stop Analysis Paralysis and Make (Good) Decisions Quickly.
Read the original article in full: How To Make Life’s Hardest Decisions: 3 Decision Making Methods to Solve Dilemmas | Personal Excellence
Featured photo credit: snigl3t via flickr.com