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6 Strategies to consider when making life changing decisions

Have you been sitting on a decision hoping that the answer will emerge only to find that waiting for it is making you feel more agitated and upset? That is how many of my clients feel before they book in to see me. 


In the last couple of weeks, I have started working with a number of people who are struggling to reach a decision on their own. This is not because they lack the necessary decision-making skills or that they lack the necessary information to make the decision but more because whichever decision they make, someone close to them will be upset or let down. 


These aren’t decisions about what car to buy, although it’s important, but rather life-changing ones like which country to live in, who to settle down with or to start a family or not. These decisions tend to take more time and require deeper thought so it’s not unusual for you to sit on them and wait for an indication on what to decide. However, if waiting for a clue is starting to make you feel agitated or keeping you up at night, then it is time to seek professional help. With a professional you can talk through your hopes, needs, and desires and make sense of all the thoughts and ideas you have swimming around in your head. It will also give you a chance to reflect on the likely responses those closest to you might have with regards to your decision options. A professional can also give you support to plan the best way for you to introduce your decision to those you care about which is often more daunting than making the decision. 


Strategies to consider when making life changing decisions: 

1. Visualize the outcome

When you’re faced with making a decision that will impact your future life it is important to deeply consider the ramifications. Imagine what will likely come of making this decision and determine if this outcome is what you would be happy with. Ask yourself if there is any chance that making this decision may lead to regret or resentment. 


2. Do your homework

A life changing decision is often entangled with other decisions and while it may seem sensible for you to focus on the main decision it is prudent to consider the run-off implications too. And if need be, educate yourself about your options when making an important decision e.g., will my qualifications be regarded in my new country; what arrangements will I need to make if I have to look after an elderly parent overseas; what might happen if my partner’s drinking gets worse, etc. 


Research the important factors of your decision before you finally settle on your preferred option. Once you make a decision there will be steps to take and things that will need to be done. 


3. Beware the obvious choice 

You may have an option in front of you that seems like it will satisfy everyone’s needs but it may leave you feeling exhausted, and it could compromise your health. The answer is not always the one where everyone gets what they want. Sometimes those options are not always golden. The payoff isn’t what it seems. It's important to look critically at your options before settling on one course of action. 


There may be multiple paths to your goal, some may take longer but will be easier in the long run. Others may get you to your destination quickly but leave you drained, exhausted and regretting your decision. So always remember to weigh all of your options before diving headlong with the first that comes along.


4. Prepare for pushback

Often when you decide on a course of action for yourself, which is in your interest, there is some push back from family or friends who disagree with your decision. In an ideal world you would look to make decisions where everyone is satisfied but that isn’t always possible. 


It is important to be prepared that not everyone will agree with your decisions. They may try to say you have made a bad decision and try to convince you to change your mind which can cause stress and strain on your relationship. Ultimately though if you have made a considered decision, chances are nothing will deter you from it especially as it is anticipated to lead you to a better, more contented life. 


5. There is more than one way 

Not all decisions go according to plan. There may be bumps along the way, so it is important to understand why you made the decision and what you hope to achieve by making it. This way, you can lean on that thinking when your plans require adjustments and still continue to work towards achieving your goal.


6. Trust yourself and your decisions

The most important thing to remember is to trust your decisions once you have made them. If you used a thorough process to come to your decision, then there is no need to give up at the first sign of trouble. Take comfort in your process and leverage your confidence and motivation to help you work toward your goal, recognising the ‘how’ might need to change as new information comes to light. The goal hasn’t changed. Once you make your decision, trust yourself that you have made the right choice.

If after everything, you are struggling to make a decision, recognise these types of decisions can be hard to do without an objective outsider who has no vested interest in what you decide. Have some compassion for yourself for taking your decision-making seriously and wanting to make a decision that works for you and others. It’s not a sign of incompetence but rather a sign of care. And recognise that perhaps the most caring thing you can do for yourself is to enlist the help of a professional. 


If you need some help making decisions and you’d like to understand what’s getting in your way as well as make a decision that withstands scrutiny, then book in a confidential call with me to discuss your situation and we can explore how together we could resolve your challenge. 


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