5 Ways to Make Big Decisions
Now more than ever, life can feel like a never-ending series of choices. All day we make many small decisions, including what to wear, how to respond to others, and how to spend our time.
We may have a hard time choosing in everyday moments, but these choices often feel easier compared to big decisions. These can be things like whether to accept a particular job, whether to start or end a relationship, or whether to make a significant purchase.
These decisions can feel paralyzing and increase our feelings of stress and indecision. At their most intense, these choices can ‘loom’ with racing thoughts, lost sleep, and anxiety.
Although big decisions can be tough to tackle, the following ideas can help us to look at the decision from more than one angle. Here are 5 ways we can boost our decision-making power and feel more confident the choice we are making is the best fit.
- Know Yourself – How do you normally make decisions? Whether we feel most comfortable taking a logical approach or an intuitive approach, understanding the way we arrive at a decision can help us identify our strengths and our blind spots.
- Timelines – When does a decision have to be made? Time can be a very precious resource. Knowing how much time we have to make a choice can influence how stressed we feel and help us prioritize. If we have time, we can do our own research, explore different options, and weigh the pros and cons.
- Values – What things are important to you? Grounding our choices in our values can provide a solid foundation for any choice. For example, if financial stability is important, we may choose a job with a generous salary, however if work-life balance is important, we may choose a job with more vacation time.
- Consequences – What are the short- and long-term consequences of this choice? The word ‘consequences’ often has a negative meaning but can also include positive outcomes such as respecting our own boundaries or standing up for ourselves. A decision that feels good in the moment may not feel the same way in 3 months, and a decision that feels uncomfortable or less than ideal now may have big payoffs down the road. Thinking about the possible outcomes (good and otherwise) now and in the future can help us to make the choice that has a better outcome overall.
- Supports – What resources or supportive people do you have who can help? Making big decisions can feel like a confusing and lonely process. By asking for opinions from people we trust, it can give us that ‘step back’ perspective as well as a supportive ear.
Decision making can be a tough process. If you’re grappling with a decision, talking to a therapist can be a great resource to work through all these points and more in a professional, non-judgemental space. Ultimately, the choice is yours!
Lisa Gust, MSc, is a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and specializes in the areas of stress management and life transitions, as well as many others. For more information on Lisa and her work click here to link to her full bio page.