From trying to figure out what to wear to school, to having to decide which college to attend, we are constantly required to make decisions. Some are of greater importance than others, and they require special attention. Except for the decisions we make subconsciously, we are able to choose how we want to proceed in given situations. Life consists of choices, and those choices can determine which direction our life will take. Thus, to eliminate any regrets and to ensure that we are staying on track with meeting our goals, it is essential that we get in the habit of making well-informed decisions.
Truth is, it is a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be! Practice these habits next time you are stuck in a dilemma…
1. Know what your values are and stick to them
In situations where you are asked to act against your values, you should probably not proceed. Your beliefs, your morals, and your ethics, are what make you the person you are today. They are part of your identity and they are your guide in life. Protect and cherish the principles you were raised with, and don’t alter them. Decisions that go against your values, often come with regrets.
2. Identify your goals
What are you trying to achieve, and how is each option going to bring you closer to meeting your goals?
3. Take your time, don’t rush it
You might find yourself stuck in a situation so challenging, that you might be tempted to choose an option just so that you get it over with. Or, you might feel pressured to give an answer to someone right away. I too, find myself stuck in these kinds of situations, and I have learned that I am happy only when I take my time to carefully examine each option.
As a result, I have eliminated the words “yes” and “no” from my vocabulary list, and I have replaced them with “I will think about it”. Adopt this technique in your life and you will no longer find yourself in situations where you have agreed on doing something that you secretly don’t want to do.
4. Consider each option carefully
Examine the pros and cons of each alternative. How is each option better than the other? What could be the potential outcome of each decision? Are there any other possibilities, other than the ones presented? Perhaps it’s not all black and white, maybe there is a grey area that you need to explore.
5. Learn from your past
We are humans and we make mistakes; it’s normal. What’s important is that you learn from them. Think of a situation in the past where you did not make the right decision and try to understand what went wrong so that you don’t do it again. Learn why your prior decision-making process failed and adjust your technique accordingly.
6. Don’t make decisions when you’re not yourself
You should never let your emotions make decisions for you. Don’t let the heat of the moment prevent you from thinking clearly and try to resist the urge to do or say things that under ordinary circumstances you would decide against. Simply because you had a bad day at work, that doesn’t mean you should quit. You are overly exhausted, and you are not yourself to make that choice. What you should do instead is try to relax and only look for a solution once you are calm, which brings me to my next point…
7. Take a break
When you find yourself stressed out from overly thinking, you should walk away from the situation and come back to it later. Place the dilemma on hold and go do something that helps you relax. I recommend going for a walk, listening to music, practicing yoga and meditation, and taking a nap. When you come back to the situation on which you need to make a decision, you will be able to make a more informed choice.
8. Say no to social pressure
Don’t make a decision based on what others might say about you. You should choose to do things that make YOU happy and that are in accordance with YOUR values. Don’t let your peers pressure you into doing things because “that’s what is considered cool”. Learn how to stand up for yourself and how to make your own decisions.
9. “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”
Each of us might have a different interpretation of this famous quote by Alfred Adler, but how I understand it is: going about making a decision that satisfies what your heart desires but staying wise within the option that you choose; think of the consequences of your actions.
10. Have a backup plan
Create a What-If scenario, in case that the path you chose was not what you were expecting it to be. This way you will be prepared, and you will not fall behind on achieving your goals.
11. Lastly, remember: it’s not the end of the world!!!
You thought you made the best choice you could have possibly made, but even then things didn’t turn out how you wanted them to… Don’t let that get to you! You will have plenty of other opportunities to achieve your desired outcome in the future, and you will eventually get it right! Some things happen for a reason, and that could be to teach you something.
Use your experience as a learning opportunity and don’t be too harsh on yourself. You know what they say: sometimes things need to go wrong, in order to go right… It happens! Get up on your feet and try again or try something different. You made a wrong decision, so what? Everything can be fixed because remember: It is never the end of the world!