The Essential Guide to Making Tough Decisions
When you don't understand the process of making good decisions, you pay the price. You either avoid making them because it's too stressful or end up regretting them later. This blog shows how to make decisions that work best for your situation.
Recently I got offered a book deal, and I had to make a tough decision. Thankfully, I knew what steps to take that made it much easier for me!
When you have the right tools, you’re more confident. You can take care of yourself even if it’s hard. That’s what I’m providing here - steps to help you feel more confident in your decisions.
Here are the steps to making a solid decision that you can trust.
Gather as Much Information as Possible
First, learn as much as you can about what's involved because knowledge increases confidence. Doing research helps to create options. Plus, it lessens the fear. Talking to others who have done something similar helps to generate ideas. Ask lots of questions. Knowing what to expect decreases anxiety. The more you know, the more choices you'll have.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Writing a book was not on my radar. Initially I was caught up in the emotion. Family and friends were super excited, but I was terrified. Feeling excited is one thing, but making decisions based on emotion isn’t smart.
Some choices have lasting implications. Letting yourself go through the emotions is an important part of the process. This takes patience and a willingness to wait until you are ready to decide. Feeling rushed to make a decision creates more anxiety, and you don't need that added pressure!
Identify Where You Get Stuck
Most people find themselves getting stuck at certain points in the decision-making process. Being able to identify where you have trouble can help.
Can you relate to any of these?
- Do you struggle to make decisions because you're unsure?
- Do you avoid new things because you're afraid they won't work out?
- Do you find yourself making decisions impulsively then regretting them later?
- Do you find yourself basing your decisions on what others think?
- Do you make decisions for everyone else’s benefit first?
Sometimes, you need to give yourself permission to choose something just for you. It's not selfish or mean or inconsiderate. It's your decision and unless you incorporate your needs - you'll never have a shot at getting what you want.
Find Ways to Ground Yourself
Once I got the book offer, I immediately prayed for guidance. I didn't want fear to run the show. When something takes you by surprise, the tendency is to hold your breath which makes it’s hard to stay centered! Sound decisions aren’t possible when you’re feeling off.
There’s a saying that God answers prayers in three ways, yes, no or wait. Your ability to wait can make a big difference.
Do you know why some things come effortlessly while other times, nothing goes your way no matter how hard you try? There's a fine line between what you can control and what you can’t. Forcing an outcome creates pain. Learning to go within yourself takes practice.
Here are some different ways to ground yourself:
- Spend time in nature
- Pray or meditate
- Do some journal writing
- Listen to soothing music
- Get a workout in
- Do a walking mediation
Learn to Trust the Process
When you trust that there is a higher purpose, the outcome isn’t up to you. You’re responsible for what you say and do. The rest is out of your hands. Going through these steps guides you towards right action, not being perfect.
When you try forcing an outcome, stop and wait. If you're confused, it's probably because the right answer hasn’t surfaced yet. Doing the next right thing sometimes means waiting. If you don’t feel ready to make a decision, don’t make one!
Making a decision based on fear will come back to bite you later. It's okay to wait until you’re absolutely ready.
Get Trusted Feedback
I admit it felt good to get the book offer. My family got really excited. But something felt off - I needed to talk it out with my friends. Reasoning things out with friends helps me think. Hearing myself say things out loud gives me clarity. Decisions made in isolation create more doubt.
If you’re a people pleaser, decisions are difficult because you would rather be liked than listen to your gut. Not honoring your own voice is the best way to regret your choices later. Instead, be willing to try something new.
Make Your Choice and Let it Go
At some point, you need to make a decision then let it go. There are no guarantees. Life is more about learning to embrace our imperfections than always getting it right.
Be gentle with yourself. This practice of making decisions is how to cultivate self-trust. You learn when to trust your intuition and when to pause before jumping in. Your mistakes are a better teacher than your successes.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is this the next right thing to do?
- What will your life be like a year from now if you say yes?
- What do you think will happen if you say no?
- Does this decision benefit others more than you?
- Do you need something before making this decision?
It took about a week for me to decide. At the end of these steps, I was ready to say no. In my gut, the timing wasn’t right. I had more to learn and other projects I wanted to pursue.
I had to let go of my ego telling me that I should do it anyway. Assuming this was my only chance was False Evidence Appearing Real. Because it didn’t feel right, I trusted that I was'nt meant to do it.
When you find yourself struggling or confused, it’s not time to act. See what footwork you need to do to feel ready. Sometimes just walking away or praying for guidance brings the right answer.
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- A Confidence Guide
- The Four Relationship Killers
- 20 Things to Do When You’re Angry
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