Throughout life, we often come across difficult decisions. Whether it deals with your academic life, social life, health or any other aspect of your unique journey, it’s important to approach tough decisions the right way. Below are 7 steps to making difficult decisions. Hopefully, this advice helps make your decision a little easier!
Consider the pros and cons of each option: We’ve all heard of pro-con lists! These can be a great way of organizing your thoughts. Pro-con lists can also help you weight the value and impact of choosing a particular option verse another. While both sides will have costs and benefits, mapping them out and seeing them side-by-side can be a great way of finding out which one benefits you more!
Think about your “why”: Why are you making this decision in the first place? Are you deciding on which classes to take, what to major in, or where you want to work? For each of these decisions and any decision you make in life, there is a reason you are making the decision in the first place. Once you really think about what it is you want and why you are making the current decision, it can help point you down the right path. It’s important to have a strong reason for your why. That way you can defend your decision and be sure it is the right one for you.
Talk to a trusted friend or family member: When making a hard choice, it can be really helpful to turn to those you trust for advice. Sometimes they can help frame the issue in a new way or look at certain details with a unique perspective. Whatever you do make sure you are making the decision, in the end, for yourself and using their input as information to helps you come to a final verdict.
Go with your gut: There is something really powerful about following your intuition. We all have a sense of what is a good or bad decision for our own paths in life, so make sure to pay attention to what you are internally telling yourself. You might not know right away (and that’s okay!). Just give yourself time and it will come to you. I often find that some mornings after “sleeping on the decision” a feeling to go one way or another will come naturally. And often, this feeling leads you down a good path.
Try to relax: Stress only makes decisions harder. So try to take some deep breaths and calm yourself when stress starts getting in the way of your decision making. Sometimes stepping away from the issue and waiting to come back to it when you are calmer and clearer head is the best thing you can do. If you can’t walk away from it, try putting the issue in perspective (remind yourself that it isn’t causing the world to end and you can figure it out!) After calming yourself down, you will be able to feel better about your decision.
Have your health in check: When making important decisions, it’s important to have your basics covered. Have enough sleep on board. A full stomach. Be hydrated. Making sure your basic health is covered before making a big decision can help you make your choice based on logic and reasoning versus short-term goals (like which decision will lead you to a Chipotle bowl the quickest lol!) Making sure you are feeling good enough to take on the contemplation of a big decision can help you decide on the best choice.
Be in a good mood: Having a good attitude while making tough decisions can really impact how the options are framed in your mind during the process. How you approach the options you are deciding between can have a huge influence on what you see as a benefit or cost to a particular choice. For example, if you are choosing between two summer internships and one is in the city and the other in the countryside, how you perceive living in the city versus country can have a big influence on your final choice (of course there are always other facts but we can ignore those for now haha). Also making big decisions when upset can lead you to choose a particular option based on extreme emotions instead of logic. One way to help you avoid making a decision when upset is to sleep on it. If you feel the same way about your choice after a good night’s rest then that is often a good sign that your choice is the right one.
Overall, those are seven steps to making difficult decisions. For more information to help you through difficult decision check out this article on how to conquer your fears. Good luck!