Are you struggling to make a decision?
Maybe you are not sure about your job anymore.
Perhaps you want a change in your relationship or need to make a decision about your health and wellbeing.
This blog is aimed at helping people to make decisions. It won’t give you answers because no one can tell you what to do. It might not help you to make a decision immediately but it will help you to make a decision that is right for you at the time of deciding.
Why is decision-making difficult?
It’s not always difficult. You make decisions about things every day of your life. You might decide on what you are going to eat, at what time you get up in the morning or what you might wear. In other words, you make choices continually without thinking about it too much. But choices can be difficult if the decision is important and may have a big impact on your life.
It’s all about information gathering, impact and perspective.
Let me give you an example.
Some people think that its easy to change job because they have had the experience of many jobs in the past. They have learnt how to find a job, how to complete an application form, what to put in a powerful resume and what works at most interviews. They have collected information through action. If this person is financially secure then the impact of not having a job won’t be so bad. If they have the right attitude and can see the benefits clearly, then they have the right, positive perspective.
It’s easier for these people because they have learnt a lot about that area or situation. But if the decision is about something that you are not sure about or if there are lots of options or negative consequences suddenly the decision becomes hard and decision-making feels anxiety-provoking.
Remember, it doesn’t matter who you are, you will be biased to certain information and that can add to your anxiety.
How can difficult decision-making you feel?
When you are anxious to make the right decision you feel insecure. You might have difficulty sleeping. Some people continually keep thinking about the issue and worry all the time. The rumination encourages you to avoid making the final decision. During these times it’s easier to pass over the responsibility to someone else. For example, if you need to make a decision about having surgery or not you might leave the decision to your doctor.
Making difficult decisions makes you feel overwhelmed.
You can feel unwell if the anxiety of making the decision gets worse. Anxiety can cause you to have tension in your muscles and get aches and pains. You may exacerbate skin conditions or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You might get headaches.
When you aren’t feeling yourself you might change your behaviours. You procrastinate. You eat too much or drink too much alcohol. You might start to shout at the kids or stop doing things that you used to enjoy. You might distract yourself by watching films till late at night.
But you can do something to feel better.
Here are 5 things that can make the process easier
Explore your options. Often writing down your choices is helpful. For some people the option of doing nothing will be best so do include this. Also, limit your choices as people procrastinate when there are too many things to think about. This can help you to gather the right information.
Now write down your options.
A decision tree or flow chart might help.
Assess your pain level. I don’t mean physical pain, although you might have that with tension. Instead, assess how much this indecisiveness is hurting you and your family and friends. Ask yourself why you are going through this pain. Is it triggering a feeling of loss? Think about it. If you broke your leg would it be difficult to do something about it? If you are in pain with making the decision you need to set a deadline and take action. This will mean considering your options and setting achievable goals. This is the impact the difficult decision is having on you.
Invest in yourself. Investment is about time and money. How much is it costing you when you don’t make a decision? Time will be important to gather the information though. For some people, the solution might mean getting professional advice because you need information about things that you don’t know about sometimes. Depending on the topic this might mean hiring a professional person like a financial adviser, a counsellor, or speaking to your doctor. This is the information gathering aspect of decision-making.
Ease the pressure. If you are feeling stressed, under pressure from work or others it makes it more difficult to assess the options. Don’t let your emotions get in the way. You don’t think so clearly when feeling stressed. You may also be feeling other people’s pressure. Maybe someone is trying to force you to choose, yet you can’t. Decisions can only be made by you if they involve you and have consequences for you. One way to ease the pressure is to keep focused on what you need to do rather than doing everything. This will mean setting an agenda, prioritising, and sometimes going on your own gut feelings. Easing the pressure means getting a clearer focus so it’s about information, impact and perspective.
Check your health and wellbeing. To enable your body to function its optimum level you need to consider your lifestyle. Are you using self-defeating behaviours to avoid choosing? Perhaps you are drinking too much alcohol. Are you eating and sleeping well? Good sleep in particular is vital to better productivity. Good sleep will mean quality sleep rather than 10 hours of sleep a night! If sleep is a problem tackle that.
Reflect on your values and beliefs. This will often help you to understand why certain decisions are difficult especially if the action goes against your values and beliefs. Write down these beliefs then ask yourself if your beliefs are really true. For example, if you believe that you must always have the top of the range new car when making a decision to buy a car, ask yourself what that is saying about you and if that is what is really needed in a situation.
Create a constructive environment. If you work in a mess your mind won’t be focused. If you are trying to make a decision in the office, go out for a walk in the countryside and get a different perspective on the problem. Do something different because you won’t make that decision if you keep doing the same things.
If you are reading this you have got the ability to make a decision. When you do it it will be the best decision for you at the time because you will have used the information you had at that time. Although in hindsight, you might later say to yourself that you wish you done something else you will have learnt lots.