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5 Tips to Help You Make a Tough Decision


Are you overwhelmed?  Do you need help deciding what to do?  You are not alone.

Every day, we are faced with dozens of decisions.  There are easy, mundane decisions.  Should I have coffee or tea?  Should I walk another lap around the track?  Which socks should I wear?

There are life-altering decisions.  Should I attend the local college or the one out of state?  Should I move to the city or stay where I am?  Which job should I take?

With so many options, it is easy for us to become overwhelmed and indecisive.  Here are 5 tips to help you weigh your options and make a tough decision.

    1. Be Specific.

      Ask yourself a specific question.  In that question, give yourself specific options.

      Why bother being specific?  If you don’t know what you are trying to decide, it will be harder to make a decision.  If you don’t know your options, you may make a decision that does not solve your problem.

      Here is an example of vague and specific questions.

      Scenario: You have applied to many universities.  You have been accepted to two universities, ABC and XYZ.

      • Vague: Where should I go to school?

      • Specific: Should I go to ABC University or XYZ University?

      For the vague question, you can decide you’d like to go to LMNOP University because that’s where all of your friends are going.  LMNOP is a great school.  However, it is not on your list of options. Deciding to go to LMNOP University does not solve your problem because you were not accepted to LMNOP.

      The question with specific options will help you reach a decision that solves your problem.

        2. Stay True to Your Values.

          “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”  ~Roy E. Disney

          When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.  ~Roy E. Disney


          Make sure your decision is in line with your values.  Stay true to who you are and think about what you truly want.  If you go against your values, you may feel unhappy.  You may even regret your decision.

          Take a moment to think about a time when you did the opposite of what you believed.  How did you feel?  Were you excited at first, then miserable later?  Did you keep thinking about the decision long after it had been made?

          No matter what decision you make, be true to yourself.  Be your authentic self.  Uphold your values.

            3. Talk It Out.

              Talk to a trusted friend or advisor.  Make sure the person is someone who will keep your confidences, is trustworthy, and gives sound advice.

              We all have friends who are great to talk to and willing to agree with whatever we say.  However, for those tough decisions, you need to talk to someone who will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not.

              People who love you enough to be honest with you (and gentle with your feelings) are rare and valuable creatures.  Hang on to those people.  Listen to what they have to say.

              I know you’re thinking, “I don’t want to hear the truth.  I want someone to decide for me.”  This is your decision.  Own it.  At the end of the day, you have to be the person who decides.  You will be the one who lives with the consequences.

              Talk.  Listen.  Then make your own decision.

                4. Write It Down.

                  Write your options down.  Make a list of pros and cons for each of those options.

                  Writing down your specific questions, options, pros, and cons will help you think about what you should do.  Rate the importance of each pro and con on a scale of 1-10. A rating of 1 means that item is not at all important.  A rating of 10 means it is extremely important.  After you have entered all of your items, add up the ratings for your pros.  Then add up the ratings for your cons. 

                  To quickly add up your pros and cons, use the Order Your Life Pros and Cons spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet automatically calculates your totals.  There are also colorful rating bars that move as you add items and ratings to the list.

                  Seeing your pros and cons written down will help you weigh your options.  Rating each item will help you see what is important to you.  By writing your options down, you will be better able to make a decision that is true to your values, weighs all your options, and gives you the information you need to make a well-thought-out decision.

                  Pros and Cons Excel Spreadsheet

                    5. Decide.

                      Eventually, you have to make a decision.  Use all the information you have to make that decision.

                      Procrastinating and worrying will only lead to more worry.  Chances are, the longer you wait, the more anxious you will become.  Making a decision may ease your anxiety and give you a sense of calm.

                      There are no guarantees that things will turn out perfectly.  Yet, after making a decision, you will feel the proverbial weigh lift off of your shoulders.


                        6. Celebrate.

                          After you make a decision, congratulate yourself.  Celebrate making it through the decision-making process.  Although you make dozens of decisions every day, decision-making can be hard.  Celebrate your new skills and rejoice in your decisiveness.  Then, go forth and put your plan into action.


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