Making difficult life decisions causes instant fear and anxiety. Thoughts about future outcomes race through your mind in an uncontrollable emotional rollercoaster. We all know that the future is unpredictable, but we pretend otherwise when faced with significant decisions. Although we love the freedom to choose our own destiny, the responsibility of authoring our own life story weighs heavy on our shoulders when faced with difficult decisions.
Here are four steps to guide you in making tough life choices:
- Step #1: Identify the problem first
At this point you need to ask yourself, Have I Gathered all relevant information.
Psychological studies show that you need sufficient information in order to make a good decision. When your emotions are high, you tend to rely more on heuristics—or mental shortcuts—that are often inaccurate and reductionist. After calming yourself, it’s important to gather quality information to help you make an informed decision.
- Step #2: Generate alternative solutions
When generating alternative solutions, you need to ask yourself Have I applied the 5x5x5 principle? you make a decision just think what will be its effect after 5 minutes. It can be an ill-effect or favourable effect, but the outcome must be about what you desire and must not have what you don’t desire. It’s the first 5.Next, think over its effect that comes after 5 months. What happens after 5 months if you make that decision, figure out the possibilities and probabilities? Last 5, think over its effect which comes after 5 years. What happens after 5 years when you make that decision, again think over it figure out the possibilities. By this technique, you are clear on your decisions and its outcomes in the future thus making it more effective. Think about what you really want. At the end of the day, what do you value, and what matters most? If there are multiple options that seem mutually exclusive, look for creative ways to combine them. Maybe there’s a way it can be “both/and,” not “either/or.” At the same time, consider: When you say ‘yes’ to something, sometimes that means saying ‘no’ to something else. It’s normal and okay to wonder about the road not taken
- Step #3: Evaluate your options
Trust your intuition. At the end of the day, we often feel which decision we need to make; it’s just very difficult. Sometimes we know in our gut which choice we should make, but second-guess ourselves because it may not seem logical. In those situations, it’s important to recognize that the right decision may have more to do with what you feel than what you think. Sometimes our feelings and intuitions are more connected and informed than we realize. Always listen to your inner voice.
- Step #4: Select the best decision
Make your decision. The action is an important step, if you choose not to make a decision, that is your decision.
Rather than letting the opportunity pass you by, tap into your inner strength and courage in order to make the change you want. Use your power to make a decision that’s best for you. As the author of your life, you need to enjoy the story that you’re writing. Be brave. If you are afraid of uncertainty ahead, you are just being human. This is the time you can be brave. If you differentiate danger from fear, you can embrace the present state and take some rational decisions. Sleep on it. Research shows that sleeping on it results in better decisions. For example, one study provided participants two different car descriptions and asked them to choose the better car. One vehicle had aesthetic value, such as a spoiler, sunroof, and multiple colours, while the other car had more important safety features such as quality breaks and better gas mileage, but lacked aesthetic options. Participants who were forced to make an immediate decision chose car one, while individuals who slept on their decision for 24 hours chose car two, which was designed to be a better investment. This research suggests that unconscious decision-making, or sleeping on it, results in better decisions than relying on our immediate reactions.
Life’s difficult decisions feel very significant prior to they’re happening. However, when you take a step back, calm yourself, and do everything you can to make the right decision, you must trust in yourself. That self-trust is the foundation from which you will build the life you want to live. After making a decision, go with the flow and surrender to the moment. When you are fully present, you realize that you are always on your path. Once you open yourself up to endless opportunities, your creativity and courage will guide you towards self-fulfilment.