10 Practical Advice for Making Difficult Life Decisions

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Every day, you make decisions ranging from what to eat for lunch to the route you'll take to work. When you hear the word "tough decisions," your mind probably goes to bigger decisions, such as accepting a job offer, purchasing a home, or asking for a raise.

Tough decisions in life can be even more monumental, such as those involving health or caring for a loved one. Making plans for a safe, healthy, and financially secure future may be your idea of a difficult decision. But everyone is unique. What you consider a difficult decision may be obvious to your best buddy.

Whatever level of qualification any of you has for this option, here are some actionable measures to help you.

1. Visualize Preferred Outcomes

Consider what you want before diving into the assignments and facts. Visualization is not magical, but rather deliberate. Organizations create strategic plans based on their visions. Leaders, influencers, entertainers, and sportsmen (to mention a few) credit their success to visualization. Simply ask any Olympic gold medallist or sports psychologist how visualizing the best possible outcome has aided their performance.

You don't have to be playing at that level to employ this method for difficult situations. So, take a step back and think about, and possibly blog about your intended goal.

2. Do Your Homework

Before making any difficult decision—or any decision at all—start by obtaining pertinent facts to assist you in effectively narrowing down your possibilities. The devil is in the particulars.

Assume you're deciding which institution or university to attend (or send your child to). What are their placement rates, tuition, room and board prices, campus life features, and, of course, their reputation in relation to your degree path? The data collection process is crucial for narrowing your alternatives and elevating the best options. Otherwise, you're gambling with very little grounding.

3. Think Through Each Option

This may sound apparent, but if you only focus on one option, you may struggle. Instead, investigate all of the choices and the consequences of each choice. Consider it a flow chart. What might happen if you make a decision?

If you need to choose a medical procedure, you will almost certainly want to know all of your options. Consider alternative medicine, a second opinion, or a different sort of therapy or treatment to help you feel more confident in the path you eventually pick.

4. Identify the Pros and Cons

Remember the "old school" list of advantages and disadvantages? It's not as out of-date or inane as you may expect. Putting your selections in black and white allows you to practically assess your options.

For example, suppose you've been offered a new job and are unsure if you should quit your current position for this new one. Write "stay" or "go" at the top of your page, and then list the advantages and cons of each under each header. This is where you enter your research findings, views, rewards, and risks associated with each option. Generally, the column with the longer list is the best choice. However, there are a few more actions you may do to feel more secure about your difficult decision.

5. Consider Others’ Opinions

Speak with folks who have been along this path previously. Bring questions to the conversation that will not only be respectful of their time but will also allow you to gain real-time comments and guidance. These discussions should include family, friends, colleagues, mentors, coaches, and, of course, everyone who may be impacted by this difficult decision. They will not only provide you with valuable information, but they will also act as a source of comfort and will let you realise that you are not alone in this process.

Keep in mind that not all decisions require the input of others, and you will have to make the difficult decision on your own. However, if others will be influenced by your difficult decision, they will likely be happier with the outcome.

6. Expect Pushback

You should never dwell on unfavourable outcomes, but any decision will elicit some opposition. Others will undoubtedly disagree with your decision, and they will certainly let you know.

Remember that you cannot and should not try to please everyone. Otherwise, emotions will take precedence over facts, clouding your sound judgement. Even while emotions will play a role in every decision, you must rely on the hard work you've put in so far, as well as the data and views you've gathered.

When people express their concerns, let them know that they have been heard and that you appreciate and honour their viewpoints. You should be able to alleviate their concerns and seek their advice in the future if you do so.

7. Be Willing to Course Correct

If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again. Nobody is flawless; you are human, and mistakes will occur. However, if you acknowledge your error, others are much more likely to assist you if you need to change your direction.

It is harmful to blame others (and yourself) for mistakes. Instead, be proud of the work you put in to earn this. Remember, you've previously specified options, paths, and outcomes that you can try again. And, because you've already prepared for course correction, this should boost your confidence.

8. Be Confident in Your Decision

You've gone through the steps so far—and there may be some you've missed—and you're ready to make the difficult decision. You should be confident in your decision. You should also be proud of yourself for putting in the effort to reach this stage.

If you haven't already, begin to let go of any doubts or concerns about your decision. If you believe there is more work to be done and you are unsure about your decision, return to step one and visualise fresh results.

9. Trust in Yourself

Famous leaders, corporate titans, and industry specialists all have one thing in common: they believe in themselves. They are adamant that once they have reached this point in making a difficult decision, they must trust in themselves.

You've probably heard the phrase "trust your gut." In making difficult decisions, intuition can be really useful. Scientific data demonstrates how somatic markers—those feelings inside the body that correspond with emotions, such as higher heart rates—often affect decision-making.

When the best possible outcome is unclear, consider how each option will ultimately make you feel. In some circumstances, such as first instincts on exam answers, your gut instinct is correct. It's fine to be stressed about a difficult issue, but not to the point that it impairs your ability to make difficult decisions.

Steve Jobs has freely stated that he did not always have the correct answers or make the best decisions. "You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever," he believed once he was ready to make the difficult decision. This method has never failed me and has made all the difference in my life."

10. Make Your Tough Decision

While making difficult decisions in life is never easy, it is also never pleasurable to put them into action. You will feel better once you have taken the difficult decision. So, thank you for your rigorous screening process, your hard work, and your consideration in making this difficult decision. There has been a lot that has led you to this point. As a result, you should be pleased with your journey. It is now time to commit and act.

Final Thoughts

You will have to make difficult decisions throughout your life, but by following these steps, you will find the process much simpler. As you visualise favourable outcomes and gather the information needed to assess your options, your confidence and clarity will grow.

Remember that it is acceptable to admit mistakes and make course corrections along the road, but if you include people in your decision-making process, you will gain support and buy-in. Too many decisions are made hastily and without thought—but you shouldn't. You now have a strategy for dealing with difficult life decisions. So bring it on!

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