Decisions – daily we make thousands of them. What clothes to wear, what to eat, who to call, which pen to use. Minor decisions made without a lot of thought. Decisions that don’t change the major course of our lives. However, there are times with we are confronted with life-changing decisions.
Picture yourself running down a dark street in the early moments right before dawn, deciding which way to turn to avoid the path of a bomb. Or you’ve just discovered you have cancer and you’re struggling with the decision to take a traditional or holistic approach. Or you’re a world leader whose final decision will affect the lives of many.
Life altering decisions. Decisions that can change the course of your life forever and even the lives of others. Some decisions allow you time to seek out advice. Others demand split-second visceral gut decisions. Even when you have the opportunity to confer with others, you alone make the choice. But how do you make the best choice?
Below are 5 steps to guide you:
1) Drop the words right or wrong from your vocabulary.
The decision to be made is not a black and white or an either/or issue. You want to maintain an open-mind during the decision making process. That will allow you to entertain multiple possibilities.
2) Gather information.
Read, talk with people you respect and trust – friends, family, professionals. Ask questions, especially of people who have had to make similar decisions. This will help you to weigh your options.
3) Take the long view.
Ask yourself how this decision will affect you in the long run. Does it involve risk, danger or extravagance? Can you cope with that? Should you seek more alternatives?
4) Drop all judgment.
Be open to change. When confronted with change, most of us quickly run for cover. We want change, but our fears can overtake us and keep us huddled in the pattern of our familiar comfort zone – even when it’s no longer useful. Change is scary, yet how can you judge a future? Fear is ruled by emotions – don’t let them rule your decisions.
Have you ever decided to do something then put it off? Many people do – especially if to act on it requires courage. Then they carry the weight of guilt. To avoid such a scenario, once you’ve made a decision, write down the first three action steps. Then begin taking them. Even if you just know one, take it for it will lead you to the next. Never let doubt or fear hold you back. Step over it and act.
Ultimately, listen carefully to yourself. Practice the skill of tapping into your guidance. Then in the moments when you’re forced to make a quick decision, the odds are you’ll make the right one. Lastly, know that the best decision will reduce your fear and move you toward peace.
“One thing is sure. We have to do something.
We have to do the best we know how at the moment.
If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt