How to Make a Decision
How to Make a Decision
Who has been there?
Maybe you have found yourself choosing which career route to take, which city would be best to move to for you and your family, or which school to enroll your children. Life can and will throw several options toward us (yay for options, this means we aren’t stuck or trapped, and we are capable of creating our own futures!), but how do we make ourselves sit down and process the pros and cons? How do you know what will be best for your future when right now all you can think about is what you have in the fridge to cook for dinner, what you’re going to get your father for his birthday and how to get that damn mouse out of your attic?
So yes, I was that grown-ass adult sitting on the couch googling, “How… do I make… a decision?” Google please. Maybe give me a blog or even a reddit… thingy. Several minutes into my search I found nothing. Zip. I thought to myself, “Well, damn. I guess this is one of those things where I will have to dig into who I am and figure it out. Ugh, I hate putting time into this.”
You are not alone. Making decisions is hard, especially when you have good options to choose from. Or especially when the consequences of those decisions can affect you or others in big ways. This blog isn’t going to solve all your problems, but hopefully it will give you some helpful tools to guide you in making the best decisions for you.
You. Will. Have. To. Do. Some. Internal. Digging. I know, I know. It’s not my favorite either, but the time you put into this decision will more than likely be worth it. Especially if you spend 30 minutes on deciding what is best for a decision that will last for the rest of your life. That’s a pretty big deal. Soooo, values. A lot of things will change in life, but you can, for the most part, rely on the values you have. You have been creating these values for a long time, and it is a part of who you are.
Identify your values.
Your thoughts and emotions might change, but your values won’t. This is why it is easier to make decisions based on your values. What do I mean when I say values?
For example, my values include:
Ample time with my husband, dog and family
Time for myself for self-care and creativity
You can be creative with your values!
Now that you have your values you can rank them most important to least important. Good. Now, I want you to take your options and compare them to your values. Which option(s) align more with your values? Will that job you are obsessed with be perfect or will you have to sacrifice two of your top values (time with family and staying physically healthy) in order to keep that career afloat? Your happiness is tied to your values. Maybe looking at other options is better for you. You can more than likely guarantee your happiness in the future if your decision is focused on your values.
If you still feel stuck after doing the above exercise, then you can try a pros and cons list! Make a T-chart (It’s okay, google will answer your question about what a T-chart is!) and put pros and cons at the top. For each option you have, find the pros and cons and list them. You might have to make several pros and cons T-charts. Or just make a list without the T-chart.
Now, using your T-chart you can use a scale between 1 and 10 (10 being really important to you) and label each pro and con you have listed with a number from the scale. I have created an example and plopped it below:
New Job Offer - Pro and Con List:
I will have more family time (10)
I will get a raise every 6 months (9)
I will have friendly coworkers (10)
I get paid less (5) I will have to learn a different position (2)
I will have to commute (5)
You will start to see what is important to you, and what you might be able to compromise.
I recommend asking the people in your inner circle, the people who really care about what’s best for you. Remember you do NOT have to take their advice or agree with them. Think about it like it’s one of those Facebook surveys to see when your friends can meet up for that backyard birthday party! You are gathering all of the information you can in order to make the best decision. You will have more perspectives and questions at the end of those conversations than when you started. You will not get overwhelmed if you separate yourself from the information (you are not your decision), and start putting that information into the Pros/Cons lists or prioritizing them with your values!
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by making a decision. You are normal. If the decision-making process does become too much, please reach out to a professional for help.
Read up on the topics! If it’s for a career, then read more about that career, how people got into that field, what education is required, what a day in the life of a ____ looks like, etc. Look for blog entries about your topic or even jump on Reddit.com and see what people are saying about the topics. You can even visit Youtube.com and see if there are any reliable videos on your topics. Maybe even find a library? (Gasp!)
I understand some decisions are harder than others, and there are some decisions that can really affect individuals and families. It would be a good idea to list or even just think about how this will affect you now, in five years and then in 10-15 years? How will your decision affect your immediate family or the people you care about most? (This might not be important if your decision is personal or private.)
Again, if the decision-making process becomes too much, please take a break and revisit later or reach out to a therapist/professional to help you.
You are doing a good job. You are seeking answers and you care about your decisions and consequences. You are on your way to finding your answer. Remember to breathe and take breaks. Find support and take care of yourself. Making hard decisions can be emotionally exhausting and stressful.
Other tools you can use to help make your decision is journaling or drawing a picture of what you want your future to look like and seeing if any of your options fit into that drawing. Also remember that in some circumstances you really don’t have a wrong answer. You might possibly have several really good options, and your life will be good no matter what you choose.
So the next time you find yourself googling things that you know google will not know-- remember that you already have the answers. Need help? Ask.