Indecisiveness plagues all of us from time to time. Whether it’s a small decision like what to wear or what to eat for dinner or a big decision like where to move or which job to accept, we can become overwhelmed and even paralyzed by making a choice that impacts our future in any way. Sometimes the pressure of making these bigger decisions is so much that we just avoid them all-together, often leading to a life that feels comfortable, but unfulfilling. We desire change, but dislike the decision-making process that often comes with that and shut down/convince ourselves that things are ‘okay’ the way they are.
So why do we do this? Why do we put so much pressure on our decisions? The majority of it comes down to fear — fear of the unknown, fear of regret, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of judgment and the list goes on and on. Additionally, we lack trust in ourselves and our ability to handle whatever outcome results from the decision we make – for better or worse. And finally, we often view potential decisions as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ vs. thinking of them as two separate paths that will lead us to two separate sets of experiences, opportunities and lessons. When we can learn to lean into the fear, change our perspective about the outcome and have greater trust in our resilience and adaptability, we can greatly improve our confidence in this process and make decisions that represent our authentic desires.
As the title promises, here are 5 helpful questions you can ask yourself when faced with a difficult decision:
What is the best possible outcome in each scenario of this decision?
We often worry about what could go wrong and focus on an endless list of ‘what if’s’ that typically entail negative outcomes when we are faced with a big decision. However, if we visualize what could go right and imagine the best possible scenario instead of the worst, we can have a greater sense of which one resonates more with what we want. When you think about the best possible outcome of each scenario, which one physically, emotionally and mentally fills you with the most joy?
If I eliminated the presence of fear or anxiety about this decision, what would I do?
Too often we make decisions from a place of fear/stress vs. a place of love/desire. This keeps us focused on the negative and doesn’t allow us to be our true, authentic selves. Fear is normal, but it shouldn’t drive our decision-making process. Take back control by asking yourself what you would do if fear/doubt/worry didn’t exist. If fear is still a roadblock after answering this question, work it out by talking to a therapist or friend.
What will I gain/learn from each option presented to me in this decision?
If you’re finding yourself stuck in feeling like there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision, break down each option and list what you will gain/learn from each one. Seeing that each option comes with it’s own set of experiences, opportunities, insights and growth will re-frame your perspective and alleviate some of the pressure of making a ‘right’ choice.
If the worst case scenario about this decision did in fact happen, what would I do next?
This is meant to help you recognize that you’re a resilient, adaptable person who is capable of handling whatever results from this decision. Sitting down and mapping out exactly what you would do if your nightmare came true will help you see that while it wouldn’t be ideal and would likely be challenging, it wouldn’t be the end of the world & that you’d bounce back from it regardless. Having a game plan gives us a sense of preparedness, which gives us increased confidence and comfort to move forward with.
Which choice in this decision is most aligned with my goals & values?
If you aren’t sure, start by listing out your goals and values without the decision in mind. Which things are most important to you right now? What are your priorities? What are your biggest goals? After thinking about that, go back to your options and determine which one aligns most closely with these.
The most important, crucial part of any decision is that it’s yours and that it comes from a place of authenticity. Try to refrain from talking to too many people and getting too many opinions about your decision. This can disconnect you from yourself and confuse you even more. After you’ve made a decision, you don’t need to apologize or explain yourself, you just need to remain true to you. Everyone will have an opinion about what you ‘should’ do, but at the end of the day, we are the only ones that have to live with the decisions that we make.