Five easy ways to help you make difficult decisions
Decision making is never easy and big life decisions such as moving house, gettng married, ending a relationship or quitting a job, can lead to you losing sleep and feeling stressed and anxious - that's only normal. We've all been faced with big decisions at some point in our lives, but the good news is that there are a few techniques you can use to make the decision making process a bit easier. We share with you 5 ways to enable better, easier decision making - try them out and let us know if they work for you!
#1. Limit the information you take in
We live in an information age, where all the information we could ever want or need is at our fingertips, thanks to the internet. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that we're often overloaded with more information than our brains can process. Whilst it's pretty commonly accepted that the more information you have, the better decisions you'll make, there is such a thing as too much information. When we take in too much information, from any source, we add weight to irrelevant information and overestimate its value. According to Psychology Today, this could disable our decision-making processes (1) - "The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says, 'Pay attention. This could be important.' When data is missing, we overestimate its value. Our mind assumes that since we are expending resources locating information, it must be useful."
You might find that you've asked your friends for advice and have received a different opinion from each and every one of them.Or it could be that you have researched a topic way too much and are now suffering from information overload. This can make the decision-making process much harder. Remember that your decision is always reversible. Wondering if you should move across the country? You can always move again if things don't work out. Most decisions don't actually matter as much as we think they do, so keep the information you take in to a minimum.
#2. Pretend you're advising a friend
When we make personal decisions, whether it's something small like what to wear tonight or a larger life decision like moving house, we often let emotion cloud our judgement, which can affect decision-making skills - we all do it! But by stepping back from the decision and pretending you're offering advice to a friend trying to make a decision, you break free of your emotions and look at the situation from a different, more objective perspective. Imagine you're unsure of whether to end your relationship. Now imagine a friend has come to you asking for help with that same decision. Think about the type of questions you would ask him or her and what your advice to them would be. Trying this out can really help you to gain perspective on those difficult decisions.
#3. Reverse your assumptions
We all have core assumptions and these can lead to you making the same kind of life choices over and over again, getting stuck in a rut (2). Sometimes challenging yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone can be tough, but by doing the exact opposite of what you'd normally do, you're confronting your default behaviour and trying something completely new. So if you're weighing up whether to go back to full-time education or stick at your well-paid, secure job - imagine you're going to do the opposite of what you would normally do and that you're living with the results of your decision. This allows you to look harder at your decision and think about what details really matter to you. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to make better decisions and get out of a rut, but nobody's saying it's easy to do. Psychology Today recommends you ask yourself these questions:
- List all your assumptions about your subject
- Reverse each assumption - what is its opposite?
- Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal
#4. Start a spreadsheet
If you love making lists or charts, you'll know they can really help you to stay organised. But they can also help you to make important decisions. A simple Excel spreadsheet can help you to see the bigger picture. Or you could just try a simple list of the pros and cons for each option - for example, if you can't decide which area to move to, listing the positives and negatives of each could make the decision simpler. It may take some time to come up with the perfect format of your spreadsheet that works for you and your decision, but it's time well spent!
#5. Ask yourself "What is my gut telling me and who will my decision affect?"
It might be that your decision will hurt others - for example, if you decide to end a relationship or move to a new city. But then there are others your decision will benefit - such as your parents if you move closer to home, or even your own mental health and self-esteem! You'll have heard people telling you to go with your heart or your gut instinct when it comes to decision making, and we have to tell you - this is pretty good advice. Your gut is usually a good indicator of the best decision for you. Yes, you may feel sad about a difficult decision you have to make, but if the sadness is coupled with relief, it's the right choice!
Making decisions can be tough - we've all faced the sleepless nights and worry that often accompanies a big decision. But it's important to remember that 99% of decisions are reversible, so even if things don't work out, you can always make a new decision that suits you better. Staying positive and having faith in your decision-making ability is important in order to fully embrace your choices!
Are there any tips and tricks you use to make difficult decisions? Here at Expertrain HQ we are notoriously indecisive, so we'd love to hear any advice or tips you'd like to share with us - leave us a comment below or Tweet us!
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