by Suzi April, Live Life Coach
Every day we’re faced with countless decisions. What should I make for dinner tonight? Will I exercise today? What should I wear to work? Other decisions are weightier. Is it time to look for a new job – or go back to school? How can I create a new life for myself after a divorce? Should I go after that long-held dream I’ve often talked about – but never acted on?
Decision-making can be difficult, but why? A few of the more common reasons are:
- Fear of upsetting or disappointing others
- Feeling you “should” do something -- and you don't really want to
- It’s easier to let someone else make the decision for you. By making our own decisions, we have to accept the consequences
- Fear of making the “wrong” decision. “There’s no going back” mentality
- Physically tired, lacking the drive or motivation to do anything else
If you feel stuck by these or other paralyzing thoughts or feelings, these steps can help you find resolution to whatever situation you face.
1. Identify the time frame. Do you need to decide right now? In two weeks? A month? Knowing the time frame can take the immediate pressure off. If, however, there’s no hard “deadline” it can help to make one up for yourself – otherwise it’s easy to keep procrastinating. And remember, not making a decision is a decision!
2. Make it concrete. Identify what choice needs to be made or question resolved. I always feel it’s good to put things down on paper. Sometimes when you start writing you may find that’s not really right, it’s more about this.
3. Gather information. I worked with a 40-year-old client who was trying to decide whether or not to have a baby. Her husband was fine either way, so it was up to her to decide. She started by talking to her doctor about the possible risks and tapped into the latest research. She spoke to other mothers who had children later in life.
4. Explore all options. Make a list of the choices available, free of any limitations. Let your mind roam freely. In the case of the woman trying to decide whether to have a baby, she included alternatives as well. What if she couldn’t become pregnant? Would she use a surrogate? Adopt?
5. Consider the pros and cons of the options. Think about the possible outcomes of each. How does that feel? A yes, a no, a maybe? If you’re not getting clear direction, drill down and assign each option a number, with 1 being not important and 5 being really important. See how they add up. This exercise can help clarify what resonates as true for you.
In the end, you’ll want to make a choice that aligns with your values and long-term goals. In the case of the woman trying to decide whether to have a baby, this exercise helped her realize that family pressure was driving her to consider the question. She finally went with her gut feeling that taking on such a responsibility wasn’t right for her.
What about you?
Are you feeling stuck, waffling about a decision, or uncertain of the direction in which to take your life? If you’re having trouble sorting out the options, contact me for a complimentary consultation. We can begin to explore your issues and concerns – and discover if working together can help you get on a path to the life you truly desire.