Making big decisions can be stressful, frustrating, and tough. There are many things to consider before making a big decision. It seems in your twenties especially that there are so many huge decisions to make: Deciding whether to move out of your family home, what to do after college, what you want your career to look like, whether you want to get married, whether you want to have children or a pet, whether or not you'd like to travel, or if you should start saving to own a property or a startup company.
When you're in your late teens and early twenties your biggest decisions range from what breakfast you'll cook the person you hooked up with last night to whether you really need another jello shot. With this in mind, it's possible that you may not have had to tackle any big life decisions and in fact you may suck at making decisions in general.
This was totally me. Growing up I was quite the little people pleaser and I could never make a decision for fear of offending people, letting people down, or not being able to say, "no" to people. As you grow up, luckily your mindset changes in your twenties so I learned the hard way how to make great decisions. So in the hope of enhancing your decision making process, here are a bunch of things to consider before making important life changing decisions.
1. Ask Yourself What You Really Want
Does a corporate career sound like your dream job or would you prefer to launch your own startup? Do you want to get married and have children or would you prefer to spend some time soul searching and travelling the world? There are so many roads you can take in your life, so it helps to know what you really want before making any big decisions.
2. Ask For Advice
Don't be afraid to ask for advice; it's not a sign of weakness, you're just getting different viewpoints on a situation and someone may bring to light a point which you hadn't thought of. Ask anyone — older relatives, younger relatives, friends, colleagues, strangers — the more points of view the better. Just be wary of the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Don't let others' opinions make your decision entirely for you.
3. Question Your Motives
Are you climbing the corporate ladder because you love your job or do you love the money? Maybe it's neither of these things and you're actually doing it because it makes your family proud. Before taking the big leap to quit a career which wasn't right for me, I asked myself, "Am I doing this for me or for other people?" I soon realized I was working a job I didn't like because it seemed like the sensible option and not because it was making me happy. The same can be said for people on the brink of other life decisions: Are you getting married because you can't bare to live without your partner or because all of your friends are getting married? Are you thinking of having a baby because you can't wait to be a mom or because you're not sure what you want to do with your life yet? Asking yourself tough questions is really hard but it helps to get you to where you're meant to be.
4. Weigh The Pros & Cons
There are pros and cons to everything in life but weighing up the pros and cons of your potential choices is a must. You could do this with a friend, family member, or partner as they could have a completely different perspective to you. You can weigh up the pros and cons of your future choices by talking them through with someone or literally listing them on paper, on your computer, or phone so you can see them in black and white. Even if your preferred choice has more cons than plus points, your heart may still be yearning for a particular direction and it's definitely worth taking that into account. You may discover some feels which you didn't even realize you had!
5. Ask Yourself If You Will Be Hurting Yourself Or Others With Your Future Decision
Although you may not realize it, every decision we make however small, has an impact on others. You may be deciding whether to stay in a demanding job that gives you little to no downtime for a huge raise. Yes, the money will be awesome but you might not get time to enjoy it and you may suffer from work related stress which could be bad for your health, which could also negatively affect the relationships you have with your loved ones. Obviously if you're deciding whether to break up with someone or end a friendship for the right reasons, then you are probably going to hurt someone's feelings in the immediate future, but in the end, it will be the best choice for both of you. Needlessly hurting someone with your choice is different.
6. Look At Your Potential Choices Without Rose Tinted Glasses
Recently, I was about to embark on a big decision, but I was still foolishly wearing my rose tinted spectacles. I was contemplating somewhere I'd love to live in the future; a beautiful village in the English countryside where I would live with my partner in a little cottage. Sounds idyllic, right? Well, after discussing the option with family and friends, I was alerted to the fact that I had actually been a little too optimistic about the whole thing. Apparently the village is super difficult to enter and exit in the winter months, which would make it treacherous for my partner to travel to work. The gorgeous cottages also benefitted from wonderful coal fires which actually meant that there would be no central heating, thus the winter months could get rather chilly. It's great to be optimistic, but it's not OK to let your optimism blind you to the negatives of a potentially life changing decision.
7. Imagine What Your Dream Life Would Entail & See If Your Preferred Choice Fits Into It
After graduating, I am sorry to report that I gave up on my dream to be a writer. I thought it seemed very unlikely that I would be able to support myself via writing and so I hopped from one job to another that paid the bills, yet crushed my creative spirit. Eventually I hit my breaking point. Over the series of a few months, I had my quarter-life crisis and realized that I was definitely not on the right path and I had squashed my dreams for too long. I made some really scary decisions which incorporated my dreams and I am now living a life that I love. I feel really proud of myself for taking what seemed like an enormous leap of faith into the unknown, trusting my gut, and putting faith in my dreams. If you're anything like me, you will remain unfulfilled until you can live your dreams. It makes your decision making process a no-brainer if your potential choice enables you to live your dream life.
Follow these tips and hopefully your big decision will seem more like a mole hill than a mountain!