Every day, sun up to sun down, you’re making decisions. If you tried to quantify them, you’d get dizzy fast. Thankfully, most of them are inconsequential. What should I wear today? Whitening or brightening toothpaste? Do I really need that third cup of coffee?
But then there are the other kinds of choices, the ones that feel like they can make or break you, the kind that chart a course for your life.
Have you ever been paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice, or from having so many choices you’re mired by indecision?
Maybe your choices are between two good and viable alternatives. Or perhaps your only options seem to be wedged between rocks and hard places.
Regardless of the circumstances related to an impending decision, I’ve found it extremely helpful in making the best choice by considering the following:
1. Don’t make a decision rooted in fear.
If you’re making a decision based on fear of the “what ifs”, keep in mind that the “what ifs” don’t typically happen. Letting your mind run wild with scary possibilities is not rooted in reality. Don’t borrow worry. Instead, do weigh your options and try to realistically project the outcome. Don’t look only at immediate consequences but try to determine the long-term effect of your choice. Decisions based solely on fear are rarely in anyone’s best interest.
2. Recognize that most decisions are not “forever” decisions.
Why do we often limit ourselves or box ourselves in when it comes to making decisions? A decision you make because it seems best today might not be best “tomorrow”…and that is perfectly fine! You do not have to stay in a frustrating job the rest of your life. You can change your college major. Hate the color you painted your bedroom? Change it! Give yourself the freedom to change your mind; and if you factor this into your decision making, sometimes it makes it easier to pull the trigger on a hard or complicated decision. I’m not suggesting you give up easily or abandon ship without really trying; but realizing that today-decisions aren’t necessarily forever-decisions somehow makes them smaller, less intimidating and easier to manage.
3. Imagine the best-case and worst-case scenarios.
Go ahead. Play the game. DO let your imagination run wild. Considering relocating for a new job? What if it’s the defining career choice that propels you toward an upward trajectory? What if it’s so awful, you decide to change industries entirely? Trying to decide on college? What if you find yourself thriving in a setting that sends your spirit soaring? What if you’re drowning under a sea of pressure — social and academic — and you know you need something different?
Due to the sometimes fast-and-frenetic pace of my current job, occasional mistakes are bound to happen. While I hate anything less than perfection, I have a boss who keeps it real by reminding us, “It’s not surgery…no one died as a result of our ‘oops’,” which helps keep it in perspective. As it relates to decisions, it helps to maintain a healthy perspective of your decision’s consequence. It might be the greatest/most terrible thing thing that could happen, but likely it will fall somewhere in between. When you play out in your mind best/worst case scenarios, you’re likely to consider the extremes and then determine a more likely eventual outcome. Again, this helps manage your decision, and helps to keep a molehill from becoming a mountain.
Indecisiveness can hold you back; more often than not, making a firm decision and accepting the consequences will serve you better than floundering and flip-flopping. Good decision-making is a skill that will improve when you’re paying attention, and it’s inevitable life will present one hard choice after another. Also, if you’re a parent, it’s wise to help your children understand the importance of making good choices by considering the consequence of their actions.
Can you think of a time indecision came back to haunt you? Have you ever made a choice rooted in fear you later regretted?