Important Decisions: 7 Must Know Tips When Making Them
Isn’t it crazy how as we get older, our “big” decisions go from which color we use to paint with in class, to what we will make for dinner, to which major we will study, and finally to accepting a job offer or moving across the country. They become complicated, less straightforward, and have no obvious solutions, or “correct answers”. Sometimes when making enormous life choices it can cause such internal conflict that it can create huge bouts of anxiety. Coping with the anxiety related to uncertainty in the decision-making process can be a great task in itself. Sometimes, a big decision can be wrongly made when coupled with intense anxiety, as it considerably affects your proper cognitive functioning (3). This can happen without the individual realizing that anxiety has greatly influenced his/her/their decision until after it is made.
No matter what decision you are facing here are some concrete steps to help guide your process and cope with anxiety:
1. Set aside some quiet time for yourself (2). When making any important decision, why not take out any variables that can make you feel overwhelmed or distracted? It doesn’t have to be a lengthy amount of time, but just enough to where you can clear your thoughts, without various external distractions. This is also where meditation can come into play. Stretching, breathing exercises, and yoga are other great ways to press the reset button on your brain before you get organized.
2. Be Mindful: According to doctor Deborah L. Davis, when trying to make an important decision in your life, the first step to finding your best answer begins
“Mindfulness means that you are conscious and aware, focused on the present moment, and able to calmly observe and accept all your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness means you’re able to pause, reflect, and listen to your inner wisdom. Mindfulness means that you can focus on the relevant information, know when to cut your losses, stay aware of your biases, and check your ego. Mounting research shows that mindfulness benefits decision-making” (1).
3. Accept that making decisions can be very difficult. No matter what the decision might be, instead of wishing that the choices you have to make could be easier or simple, recognize and honor the fact that it won’t and never will be. The sooner you accept that you are normal and decisions are not always easy, the sooner you can get yourself out of the initial negative loop of feeling hopeless Then, you can start thinking productively (1).
4. Be clear about your goals/vision. Along with the anxiety of making the decisions, it can create a whirlwind of different thoughts and ideas in your brain. To avoid feeling immensely overwhelmed, write down specific goals that line up with your vision of what you want to achieve. Physically writing down these goals gives you straightforward clarity and can help alleviate uneasy feelings.
5. Gather information, and give yourself an organized schedule. The more you know before making your decision, the better equipped you are for catching mistakes and being prepared going forward. Creating a schedule locks down a concrete timetable that can help you not only feel more in control of your situation, but also allow you to give yourself a progress check in regular intervals.
6. Weigh the Pro’s and Con’s. This, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated strategies to helping one make any big decision, and is a direct way to lay out how your decision should be made. Using this analytical tactic will organize your thoughts so that you can review all of the possible outcomes of your decision. You also can see a visual representation of how positive or negative each variable is and its effects on your life.
AFTER THE DECISION IS MADE:
7. Trust your decision. No matter what you decide to do, you must realize that in the grand scheme of things there is no wrong decision. Even if your might be nervous or have regrets after it is made, no matter how it turns out you will grow from the situation. If one door closes, another will open… Maybe not in the way you had wanted or expected, but everything happens for a reason. Keep your mind open, calm, and curious for whatever life might have in store for you. This could be the most important point of all. Letting go of the past and moving forward.
Want to learn more? These are just a few life tips on how to deal with important life decisions. Click here to book a free 30-minute consultation with clinician, Danielle Feerst, OTR/L. In addition, you can connect with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Written by Caroline Campione, Summer 2020 Intern