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Four Rules For making Hard Decisions

Every single day,  we make choices. These choices can range from anything seemingly small (what should I wear today) to potentially life-changing (should I stay in my current job or leave for something else?) 

Thanks to modern technology, we have so many options about how to live our lives and what to spend our time on. Our day-to-day choices may not seem that important when it comes to the small stuff, but they can become habits and compound over time. The bigger decisions, on the other hand, can have a profound immediate impact with lasting consequences. 

When it comes to making tough decisions, not making a decision or letting someone else decide for you is the worst option. But, even if you don’t make the optimal decision, you’ll have learned something. This means the next time around, you’ll be able to move forward with more information and make a better decision. 

Here are some of our top tips to improve our decision-making when it comes to the big stuff so we can overcome obstacles more quickly and reach our end goal. By following these four hacks, you’ll set yourself up for success by discovering the clarity, purpose, and values that matter in making your next important decision. 

person standing on black floor

1. Write it Down

When working on a difficult decision, write it down on paper. If you only use your head, you’ll limit yourself and keep thinking about the same handful of options while internally debating, ‘ this seems good, but what if this happens. Be as creative as you can when it comes to making possible decisions. For instance, when deciding whether to stay or leave your current job, there may be more options. Could you work flexibly or part-time? Maybe you don’t want to leave the company but just change roles internally? 

By writing things down, you’ll have a clear list of all the possibilities and will be able to quickly identify the consequences – not just the risks but also the opportunities in front of you and the likelihood of both happening. Get clear on the nature of the choice you’re making and the other areas of your life it will impact. This will help you make a more proactive and informed decision rather than getting stuck in a spiral of self-doubt or catastrophizing 

Additionally, while writing out the choices pay attention to what your body is telling you. As you write down the various options, do any cause you to tense up? Do any excite you? 

person writing on paper using yellow and black pen

2. Be Clear About What You Want and Why You Want It

When making a decision, the first thing you want is to be clear about what you want and why you want it. Once you have all the options listed in front of you, start evaluating your choices. How do they line up with your values? Why are you pursuing this path, and how will this decision benefit you? The more clearly you can define the outcome you want to achieve and the reasoning behind it, the more confident you will feel in your decision regardless of the outcome.  

3. Try Before You Buy

If you’re stuck between two options, try living with it for three days before acting on it. Don’t just visualize it. Pretend and act as if you’ve already made the choice. If you want to change careers – take some time off work to spend time in the industry you’re thinking about moving to. If you’re thinking about ending a relationship, go on a holiday by yourself or with your mates to get some space. While trying the decision out, be absolutely clear about the outcome you want. Did the taster session lead you towards your goal or away from it? 

anonymous woman choosing clothes in store

4. Eat The Frog

Once you’ve made your decision – don’t let it fester and rot. Act on it. Fear will often prevent people from acting, but if you keep waiting for absolute certainty, a sign or that perfect moment, you’ll rarely get it.  Even if that ‘sign’ eventually shows up, the opportunity may have passed. Don’t let fear run your life or use it as an excuse to stay where you are.

If fear is a factor that consistently crops up when making a decision, get in the habit of being decisive when it comes to the small things – choosing what ice cream to order or which show to stream. Once you get a bias for action and have developed a habit of acting confidently and decisively about the little things, it will become much easier to make a decision about the big things. 

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