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4 Tips to Help you Make Difficult Decisions

Being a good decision maker doesn’t always mean making decisions fast and assertively. It’s more about understanding the appropriate amount of time a decision should take, and then feeling confident about whatever choice you end up making.

The thing is, this can be tough if you tend to think deeply about your options and weigh them endlessly, going back and forth between potential outcomes. Does this ever happen to you?

It could be with decisions as simple as what to have for dinner or which task to tackle first on your to-do list. Decision paralysis also happens (arguably more often) in more extreme circumstances, like whether you should leave your job, tell someone “I love you,” or move to a new city.

The fear of making the wrong decision and regretting it or getting hurt is what holds us back in these scenarios. We get so wound up on wanting to make the perfect choice and have a flawless outcome, that we end up not making any choice at all and worrying over what we should do. If that resonates with you on any level, these 4 tips will help you reframe your thinking and make better decisions that you can feel great about.

1. Gather the facts.

When making a decision, try to step out of your own shoes and look at the situation from a third-party, outside observer’s point of view. This is especially helpful for decisions that seem big and overwhelming. Write down the facts — what will change and who will be affected and how?

Having the details laid out in a matter-of-fact way will allow you to see a clearer outcome and make the best choice for you, Dr. Jeremy Nicholson advises. It will also allow you to determine how much time you need to figure it out. Some decisions instill gut reactions, and you’ll know right away what to do. It’s okay to trust that intuition.

Others require you to sleep on it for a night or two. Give yourself this space, but don’t procrastinate making a big decision much longer than a few days because then you’ll just become stuck in a limbo of not choosing anything at all.

2. Start small.

If even the tiniest choices put you into a frozen state, practice making confident choices when you encounter small daily decisions. What shoes to wear… What to make for dinner… What to order off the coffee menu… Which route to take on your walk… What brand toiler paper to buy…

Making quick decisions within your comfort zone will allow you to practice decision making with inconsequential activities. There really is no wrong answer in these scenarios (remind yourself of that as you do this!), and your indecisiveness will slowly shift into self-assured decisiveness.

3. Reassure yourself with positive self-talk.

Every time you make a decision, stop the self-talk that’s saying, “what if…” or “that was wrong.” And, more importantly, replace those little gremlins with self-assured thoughts, like: “I made the best decision with the resources I had available,” “If something does go wrong, I will figure it out,” and “I am smart, capable, and confident in my ability to make decisions.”

Every time that you catch a negative thought and flip the script, you’ll start shifting your mindset and build a habit of confidence and optimism about the decisions you’re making, large or small.

4. Revisit the decision later.

For a few weeks or months, revisit your choices of all sizes and consequences. Whether it’s a split-second choice you made for lunch one day or a bigger choice you made for where to travel on a family trip, come back to it after it’s over and see how it affected you. Even if you made a perceived “wrong” choice that didn’t have the best outcome, what good came of it?

If nothing else, you probably learned something new about you and gained experience to make better decisions the next time. And if the outcome was wonderful? You should feel empowered about your capability to make good decisions that improve your life and the lives of those around you.

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