Decisions, decisions, help me make a decision, because I don’t know what to do. Can you relate to this line of thinking? It’s common, you’re not alone, but what can you do about it?
The reality is that finding it difficult to make a decision means we’re talking about indecision. Ask yourself, why are you being indecisive? It’s another way of looking at it and may be of help.
You have options, perhaps each is as attractive as the other. Despite this, you know that at some point you’ll have to pick one of them.
Maybe you’re afraid you might make the wrong choice? Michelle Obama famously said: “You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”
What Does Help me Make a Decision Mean?
There’s nothing wrong in seeking opinion from those you trust, especially those who know you well. It’s fine, as long as you’re not expecting them to make the decision for you.
Make sure you’re not trying to hand over your power over yourself, to someone else. To do this would be denying the responsibility you have to yourself. Worse, you’d be setting up someone to blame if things don’t work out for you.
If you are asking for someone’s advice on which option to choose, always remember that it’s you, and only you, who should decide. By all means, ask for advice, but you should take responsibility for yourself.
Is There Such a Thing as a Right Decision?
Moran Cerf is a neuroscience at Northwestern University who has spent over 10 years studying decision making. He thinks there’s a problem with the theory that the more right decisions you make, the happier and more successful you’ll be.
He says we often make bad decisions because we’re emotional, biased and can be irrational. We make many decisions every day, which takes a lot of energy, and he believes that’s another reason many of them are bad ones.
Every decision you make is the right one when you make it. Hindsight will reveal whether it was a good one or not. The important thing is once your mind is made up and you make a choice, stick with it.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth published a module on decision making for its students called 7 Steps to Effective Decision Making. It sets out a practical approach to reaching a decision without emotion. Although these steps will help you to decide, the “human side” shouldn’t be ignored.
The feelings that each choice invokes will give you an important insight into how your subconscious views them. Always pay attention to your feelings balanced against the facts.
How to Make a Decision
So you now understand why you should make your own decisions, but how do you go about it? By all means seek advice and opinion from others. If you do, remember they are looking at it from their own position which might differ from yours.
If you’re not sure how to make a decision, here’s a few ideas to help you:
What Do You Want From Life?
Think about your wants and goals, the things you want to achieve or do in your life. How do these fit with the choices you have in front of you?
Looking at the end game can make the path to it clearer in your mind. Consider how each of the options you are trying to decide on might fit in with that path.
Strip back your thinking to what you want out of life. Do this, rather than thinking about what you already have, might make one of the options a better choice.
Are You Following a Pattern?
We tend to live our lives in patterns, doing what we comfortable with. Hence the saying credited to Henry Ford: If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you always got.
Keep this in mind when trying to decide on something. The comfortable option might seem more attractive, but is it because it’s the easy option?
Just because something appears difficult or disruptive, it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be a bad choice. If you can recognize a pattern you live by, try to not let it cloud your decision.
Are You Being Indecisive or Procrastinating?
Indecision and procrastination are similar in some ways, but they do differ. When you can’t decide, it’s usually because each option is a possibility.
Procrastination can be because of fearing making the wrong decision. It can also occur when your subconscious wants to keep things safe for you by staying as they are. It believes it’s working in your best interests, but it might be doing the opposite.
It’s not difficult to identify procrastination because if are prone to it, you’ll recognize the pattern when it occurs.
Allow Your Subconscious Mind to help
Understanding how your mind works will help you take an objective view. Your conscious mind does the thinking, while your subconscious holds your beliefs and influences.
Your values and beliefs can have a big influence on the decisions you make so consider whether each choice matches them. One thing to bear in mind is that some beliefs may have been planted early in your life, so might not be relevant now.
Write down your options on a piece of paper. Spend some time thinking about each of them. As you ponder them, notice how each makes you feel.
Feelings are triggered by what you’re thinking and your subconscious influences your thoughts directly. By noticing your feelings when you consider each option, you’re getting feedback from your subconscious mind.
Live Each Option Out in Your Mind
Spend some time imagining you’ve decided on each option. Live out each of them in your mind. This process uses the conscious, or thinking part of the mind which provokes emotion.
How does each of the different scenarios make you feel? It’s a bit of game playing that can help you feel which option will work best for you.
Write down how you feel about each of them. List the pros and cons of each of them. Compare them to get an idea of which might be better.
Using the conscious mind can help because it’s the part of your mind you have control over. Whereas the subconscious works with what has been fed into it (often, from long ago), the conscious part is about the here and now.
Use Your Intuition
If you want to know how to make a life changing decision, you might be wary of using your intuition. That’s probably because it relies on your gut feeling which is unscientific.
Intuition corresponds with the subconscious mind, linking to what you already know. Feelings generated from intuition can help in making snap decisions.
The Association for Psychological Science published an article explaining why intuition is more than a feeling. It explains how we use unconscious information in our body or brain to help guide us through life. This enables us to make better and faster decisions.
It’s understandable why you might be hesitant in relying on making a decision instantly. Without giving options due consideration, it may feel a little reckless.
Sometimes, making a snap decision is best because it doesn’t allow negative thoughts or worries to influence the outcome. We often find our initial thoughts turn out to be the right ones.
You’re Able to Make Your Own Decisions
Yes, ask others for advice, but take responsibility for yourself. You can decide which option is best for you. No one knows you better than you do.
Once you’ve decided which way to go, don’t look back. If you start worrying about or questioning your choice, you won’t give it your full attention.
Of course, you can change if things go wrong, but we mostly make the right choices. A decision sets us off on a journey where we should focus on the path in front of us.
There’s no benefit to looking back to what might have been or thinking “if only”. Doing that will only distract you from the road ahead.
Once you’ve come to a decision, you’ve made your bed now lie in it. There’s no need to ask “help me make a decision” because you’ve done it all by yourself.