Making difficult choices requires clarity, context and choice. From moving to a new city or asking for a raise to making decisions regarding whether or not to remain in an intimate relationship, these decisions could have lasting impacts on your wellbeing.
Members of Forbes Coaches Council share their top tips for making these decisions with confidence.
1. Know Your Goals
Making decisions that could dramatically change your life can be daunting, and even when making the correct choices it may not always be easy to come back from mistakes made in making these choices.
Step one of effective decision-making lies in understanding your goals. Whether that means moving to a different city, asking for a raise, or enrolling in graduate school programs – being clear on your objectives will keep the decision-making process on track and focused.
Once you know your goals, the next step should be identifying options for reaching them. This may involve research or seeking advice from others or simply creating a pros and cons list of potential options. Once you have compiled your options list, carefully consider each’s impact on both yourself and others involved, including any immediate and long-term effects as well as possible causes that could arise due to making this choice.
2. Set Limits
Decisions can often feel daunting, so take your time when making tough choices. Give yourself 24-48 hours minimum before making major life-altering decisions that have an effectful consequence, and consider asking a trusted friend for their input on any major choices you need to make.
Make the process simpler by considering each course of action carefully from both its advantages and disadvantages. Consider their relative importance in reaching your outcomes as well as the probability of upsides or downsides occurring with each option.
As Drucker writes, making difficult decisions often necessitate compromises; however, you don’t want your decision to depend on everything going perfectly in order for it to work out successfully. “Clear thinking about boundary conditions is required in order to identify those decisions which might “just might” work if nothing unexpected goes wrong – these could end up leaving you vulnerable for regret in the future.
3. Eliminate the Unwanted
Many people dread making difficult decisions because it involves too much stress or responsibility weighing options or handling consequences, so they find various creative ways to avoid making such choices.
When selecting the ideal choice for yourself, take into account both emotions and logic when selecting it. Assess what worked and didn’t work in the past as well as your individual strengths that may bring something special to this situation.
At the core, difficult choices don’t present themselves as obstacles – they just require proper consideration and application to your situation. Be sure to narrow your options down until only what works for you remains available to choose.
4. Don’t Worry About the Consequences
Many people fear making tough choices due to the possible repercussions. From selecting between jobs or relationships to taking drastic actions like terminating them altogether, making decisions can have lasting effects that alter our entire future. Although deferring decisions is understandable, research by Thomas Gilovich shows that people regret ‘errors of commission’ (taking an action that leads to disappointing outcomes) more than they regret ‘errors of omission’ (not taking the necessary actions).
One effective strategy for combatting your fears is taking the time to gather all available information. Accumulating all this knowledge will allow you to avoid making assumptions-based decisions and overcome blind spots more easily. Over time, this will become second nature and you won’t fear making tough decisions; eventually you will realize they were worth making!