On the path to success, knowing how to make hard life decisions – and actually stick with them – is a must.
However, if that were easy to do, they wouldn’t be called hard decisions.
That’s why in this post I’ll be walking you through a few important practical strategies to help you gain this ability fast.
Remember that there are few things more important than self-improvement and personal growth. It’s the difference between old boring you and the you that many people acknowledge and respect.
What you’ll learn from this post:
- How to make a difficult life decision
- Practices you need to adopt immediately
- What to do in order to stand by the choices you’ve made
But first, why are certain decisions so hard?
Why Some Decisions Are Tough to Make
Renowned life coach Joseph Bikart believes that many decisions are difficult to make not necessarily because they are naturally complex, but because the decision maker perceives them as complex.
You may believe that making a decision is difficult because:
- The stakes are especially high for you
- Two or more possibilities in your mind have the same weight
- This choice triggers unpleasant memories or worries. For instance, being faced with a decision could remind you of a similar decision that you screwed up on in the past.
If a boy is thinking of buying a dog, the decision would certainly be tough if the last dog he owned bit him, or if he’d witnessed someone getting attacked by a dog a few years back.
It would also be tough if he has two great options that he wants to have at the same time, e.g. a Chihuahua or a Maltese – or there’s something really important he has to gain or lose, e.g. needing to participate in a dog show.
Essentially, decisions aren’t tough, you are. The same decision you think is tough somebody else will make without even pausing for a nanosecond.
So, understanding why exactly a particular decision is hard for you will help you immensely as you try to choose.
Avoiding a Decision is Actually a Decision
When faced with tough options, many people tend to avoid making a decision – or keep delaying.
It can be tempting to do this – it seems like the easy way out.
But actually, this attitude shows what may be the most common misconception regarding decision-making: that when faced with two options, we still have the option of doing nothing.
The actual fact is that procrastination is an active decision. It is a decision to stay uncertain and do nothing.
It is not the refusal to decide. You are not ‘freezing’ the decision in time.
Only when you realize that procrastination is a choice will you begin to see it as a less appealing option.
Besides, hesitation and procrastination do not postpone the sufferings of making a decision to a later date. Rather, they amplify the anguish by extending it out across every minute of every day until you ultimately make a decision.
So be careful not to procrastinate over your choices, because that in itself is a decision – and a negative one at that.
Here’s what you need to do if you’re faced with hard life decisions:
1. Be Clear on Who You Really Are and What You Want
Like I said earlier, it’s not the choices themselves that are complicated but the person.
You need to first be clear on who you are.
Finding it hard to make a choice often indicates that you’re unhappy with any of the possibilities available – because they’re not right for who you are.
Perhaps that’s the actual explanation for your indecisiveness – that neither alternative is what you truly desire. Perhaps you want something else completely different.
So, if you find yourself stuck between options, think about what you truly want. If you can’t make your mind up about a career shift, for example, consider what you like about your current job and the one you want to take on.
If you answered that your present job appeals to you but that the compensation in the new field sounds fantastic, your best option is to approach your boss for a raise. So you take the required steps to do so.
2. Identify the Parts of You That Want Different Things
When faced with difficult choices, different portions of you are likely to want different things.
If you’re deciding whether or not to book a costly vacation, for example, one part of you may believe that the cost is excessive, while another part of you prefers to make the most of life and go for it.
If you deliberate on the points offered by the different sides, the decision to make will be much clearer.
To help yourself make the hard life decision better, try writing down what each part of you wants and then either examine each side and choose the weightier one – or try to make concessions and come up with a solution that satisfies all of your inner desires.
3. Consider from an Outsider’s Perspective
Ideally, you should have a trusted set of people to consult with when making hard life decisions, especially people who will tell you what you don’t want to hear.
They may have a different perspective on the situation that influences how you balance the options.
Be careful though that you don’t consult more than a few people, with two being the ideal number. Talking to too many people while making a decision is certain to get you more confused. They’ll all want to offer you some input, and in the end you’ll get so much different information it’ll make your head spin.
An alternate way to do this is to imagine you’re advising a friend. What and what would you tell them?
Consider saying these out loud to yourself.
Trust me, we haven’t fully explored the benefits of talking out loud to oneself. But among other things, it helps you get your thoughts clear.
4. Follow the Facts
Read up on the relevant background info and seek advice from professionals in the field.
Try to separate any emotions or biases you might have and take this information as objectively as possible. It’s critical to be aware of the potential hazards associated with your decision.
After You Have Made the Decision
Oftentimes when people make hard life decisions, they start to get second thoughts.
How do you ensure that you stand by the decision you’ve made.
Well, first you’ve gotta bear in mind that having second thoughts doesn’t mean the decision you made was the wrong one.
Instead, you’re probably thinking about whether or not you made the greatest choice, and the price you may have to pay for the option you turned down – and that’s a completely normal feeling.
When this happens, you need to remind yourself that there is no such thing as a perfect decision. Just trust that you’ve done the best reasoning you can and that you’ve made a decision that you’re OK with.
Also, trust that your “gut feeling” is actually a superpower that lets you know whatever’s good for you.