Standing at a crossroads and deciding which way to go is a metaphor for life. No matter who you are, you’re going to be faced with situations where you need to make a choice every day. Even deciding to do nothing is a choice, although not the most productive one.
Suzanne Kane is a Los Angeles-based writer, blogger and editor. Passionate about helping others live a vibrant and purposeful life, she writes daily for her website, www.suzannekane.net. She is a regular contributor to Psych Central.
Editor: Arman Ahmed
Still, it can be extraordinarily difficult to know what the right choice is. Here are some tips that may help:
This choice isn’t life-altering.
Most likely, the choice you make now isn’t going to drastically change your life. It also isn’t generally going to be of long-term duration. So, you can enter a decision with the confidence that you can revise your actions later, take a different course of action, learn from your mistakes, and keep going. This is often at odds with what you’re feeling emotionally, since the idea of change is scary and venturing into the unknown doesn’t mesh with what you feel are your strengths. Being able to objectively look at this choice and identify it as nonthreatening will help.
Weigh and balance your options, but do act.
You can put off making a decision for a long time, but what does that really get you? It’s just a stall tactic that buys very little and may cost a lot. The wiser approach is to carefully review your options and single out the one that has the most positives going for it. Then, act. It’s much better than sitting by the sidelines doing nothing. Avoid trying to second-guess yourself once you’ve carefully reviewed the options you have and chosen one to act upon. Second-guessing never produces optimum results, but learning from your experiences does.
Seek advice from trusted others, but tailor your actions to suit your circumstances.
It’s OK, even recommended, to ask others what they think. This is especially true the more challenging or important the decision you need to make. After you hear what your network of loved ones, family members, good friends or other trusted individuals have to say, sift everything through the lens of your mind to come up with a plan that will work for your situation. This part is critical. There’s no use adopting a suggestion that will only work for a narrow segment of the population or has nothing to do with the problem or issue you face. The more like your situation, the better. This is not to say, of course, that some good suggestions can come from those who are simply offering options. Brainstorming, in fact, can yield excellent results.
If it doesn’t work, do something else.
No one is going to be successful in making the right choice every time. That’s not how life works. But giving up when you encounter disappointment or failure isn’t the way to get the most out of life. Doing something else, however, is. If you stumble the first time out, it doesn’t mean you’re awful at making choices. It does mean there’s a lesson here you need to learn. Take stock of the lesson and figure out a new approach. You want and need to amass a successful track record. This will occur the more you make decisions with the full input of logical analysis and carry out the actions you’ve determined are necessary.
Find your best time to think about your choices.
If you try to make a decision when you’re stressed out, tired, hungry, angry or depressed, the choice you make may not be well-informed. Instead, pick a time when you’re well rested, full of energy and receptive to taking action. This may be early morning, a mid-afternoon break, or after you wind down at the end of the day. Whatever time works best for your decision-making process, when you feel you can objectively analyze the various choices and come to a reasonable, workable decision, use that time to your advantage. The choices you make will reflect this proactive approach.