It's so darn difficult to make a decision, especially if it's a major one. Deciding is uncomfortable, as it can mean upsetting someone, or letting an opportunity go. And so when you find yourself in such a situation, you may weigh your options endlessly. But eventually you have to make up your mind, and that is no easy feat.
As someone who endlessly weighs the pros and cons of each donut flavor before buying, I'm all too familiar with the nagging feeling of "am I making the right choice?" So don't even get me started on real major life choices, like whether or not to move to a new town, or accept a new job. I know I'm not alone when I say that such huge decisions leave me frozen like a deer in headlights.
For all my fellow wafflers out there, I think one reason it's so hard to make a decision is because it sucks to admit we can't have it all. (No, not even when it comes to donuts). Deciding truly means giving up on something, and what might have been. But decision making is an incredible skill to have — it makes life easier and much less stressful.
If you are struggling with a major choice, then here are some tips for (finally) making a decision so that you can move on with your life.
1. Pretend You're Getting Advice From A Friend
When faced with a huge decision, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, and to see things only in the short-term. That's why we turn to friends for advice, since they can offer an outside perspective. So if you need help making a decision, pretend you're chatting with a friend, or imagine what you'd say to someone in a similar position. It may help you see things more clearly. As Thorin Klosowski notes on Lifehacker.com, "The reasoning here is really simple: Your short-term emotions get in the way of decisions, and that clouds your judgment. It's hard to break free of your emotions, but it helps to know they affect your choices."
2. Try The Old Pros And Cons List
Get out of a piece of paper and split it into a pros list and a cons list, then let your initial opinions flow from your pen. One list will probably come more freely to you, and that should make for a pretty obvious decision.
3. Listen To Your Instincts
If you feel like you should take a new job, but it makes your stomach hurt just thinking about it, then it's probably not the right move for you. And if you want to move to the other side of the country, but the thought of leaving your friends behind makes you cry, then maybe it's not the right time. Listen to your gut, literally, and see if that helps make a decision more clear.
4. Don't Overwhelm Yourself With Information
When I have to make a decision, I like to think of every single possible scenario and outcome. I then research it to death, and make web charts for days. It seems like the organized and careful thing to do, but in the end it just leaves me feeling totally overwhelmed by information. And this ends up being a bad thing. According to Klosowski, "It's a pretty common idea that the more information you have, the better decisions you can make. However, at some point, you cross a threshold where you have too much information. It's one of those dumb tricks our brains pull on us that's hard to counteract ... when you have too much information on the table, you're making the decision process way more difficult." So stick to a few clear facts, and a few opinions from trusted friends, and leave everything out of the mix.
5. Set A Time Limit For Your Decision
Sometimes a time limit may be forced upon you, such as with job offers. But other times, a decision can fester in the back of your mind for weeks. To put an end to this, you have to set a time limit for yourself. Give yourself one week to come to a decision, and then stick with whatever's the outcome. You may not make the "right" choice, but at least a choice will be made, and you can move on.
6. Leave It Up To A Coin Flip
This is a cool way to trick yourself into deciding. Grab a coin and assign an outcome to either side of it. Then flip the coin, and pay attention to which side you hope lands face up. As Barrie Davenport notes on the lifestyle website LiveBoldandBloom.com, "I love this idea because it puts you in touch with you real desires ... More than likely, this immediate reaction is what you truly want to do ... even if the choice conflicts with all of the practical considerations, you may be dishonoring your deepest desires."
Decisions aren't easy, especially if it's one that will drastically change your life. But pay attention to your instincts, and do your best to see the outcomes from an outside perspective, and you'll probably end up making the right choice.
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