Every day we are faced with countless decisions – 35,000 in fact, as research studies confirm. This ranges from the mundane “what do I eat for breakfast?” to the more significant such as “what’s my next career move?” For many people decisions can be filled with anxiety. Fears about making the wrong decision and having to deal with the consequences can be troubling. It can feel like life or death depending on the situation. So how do you proceed?
The most common approach is to make a list of all the pros and cons for each option. You then evaluate the benefits and the risks as you weigh out what is important and what matters most to you. This methodical process provides the best logical comparison, which allows you to get a better understanding of the outcome.
The next approach is based on your body and gut response. For this practice, you imagine yourself at a fork in the road where one path goes left and one goes right each representing a choice. Then go down the left path first picturing in your mind’s eye the result of the decision and noticing how you feel in your body. As you interpret this feeling, you will get a sense of whether it feels positive or negative. You can also associate a number score to this feeling by rating it on a scale from 1 – 10 (10 being the most positive). Then continue to do this same process as you go down the other path on the right. After you complete the exercise, compare these experiences in order to evaluate further.
In addition to using these techniques, it’s always helpful to enlist the support of a non-judgmental or objective person that can offer another perspective. When you are invested in the outcome, it can be hard to get a meta-view of the situation especially when you’re so close to it. Whether it’s a professional or a layperson, reach out for help to expand your mind and to feel supported.
I would like to mention another approach. After all, why limit yourself by picking only one option? When deciding between the choices, you can choose to proceed with both of them. Avoid the “either/or” mindset, which only limits your possibilities. This can really take the pressure off. Especially since there are situations where you can actually proceed with both choices and engage in them simultaneously. There will however be times when you continue to work with them but soon realize that one is unfolding better than the other. You can then choose to let that one go and take the necessary steps to responsibly make that happen.
- Refrain from making a decision too quickly. There’s typically no true sense of urgency as your mind would otherwise have you believe.
- Do your due diligence by gathering as much information about the subjects in question.
- Have less expectation on the desired outcome. Focus instead on the journey and how you might learn and grow from the experience. The less we judge our choices by defining them as good or bad, the decision-making process becomes easier.
- Calm your emotional state so you’re not as reactive. Making a decision when you’re overly emotional and fear based won’t serve you.
- Most decisions are not written in stone so you have wiggle room. In other words, you can usually course correct to achieve better results.
And remember, there are no mistakes in life but rather opportunities for personal growth.