How to Make Decisions

It’s easy for us to get into “analysis paralysis,” wasting so much time, energy and wine ruminating about which decision is best for us.

“Should I quit my job?” “Should I leave the relationship?” “Is that really worth the money?” “Where should I go for my one big vacation this year?”

And it makes sense. After all, life is short and we don’t want to f*ck it up if we can avoid it, right?

You’re likely wondering, “How do I decide? How do I get out of this crazy confusion and finally make a decision?”

I’ve done a lot of digging on this, since I have been feeling stuck lately on some biz decisions I’ve had to make.

Here are the 8 tips that helped me the most (you’re welcome!):

1. Get rid of “history bias.”
Step back for a minute and ask yourself, “Would you choose it now if there was no history bias?” What I mean by “history bias” is we tend to have a lot of weight on our shoulders because we keep thinking about all the things that happened in the past. It can make your brain a mess, for sure. So, if you were starting brand new, would you choose whatever it is that is going on right now?

So for example, if you are deciding whether you should leave a job or not, re-decide whether you would take it or not. Would you marry this person again? Would you buy this house again? Would you spend this money?

Whatever it is, consider all your options and ask yourself, would you choose it now without your history bias?

A lot of us say, “Well, I’ve just been doing it for so long.” Trust me: that may not be the best reason you want for choosing something. And remember, when you make a decision, you want to make sure you like your reason for choosing it.

2. Ask yourself, “What if failure is no big deal?” One of my mentors, Brooke Castillo, says, “What if you’re just either winning – or learning?”

A lot of times we hear coaches ask, “What would you do if you could not fail?”

But this new perspective takes it to the next level. So, if failing didn’t matter, if you knew you might fail at it, would you still do it?

If you failed at trying something, quitting something, or moving out into something, would you do it if failure didn’t matter?

This is important to ask because remember: “failure” is just the way you think about it. If you’re only “winning or learning,” then there really is no failure. Nothing is a failure. So when you take out the thought that “failure ruins everything” and that you could fail, which one do you do?

3. Imagine that both decisions could be awesome. What if you could succeed at both of them? Which one would you choose?
Some of us don’t choose one option over the other because we’ve played it out and we’ve already anticipated failure. We’ve already anticipated that we won’t know how to do something or we’ve succumbed to our own doubt about something.

For example, if you’re thinking about leaving a relationship, consider this:

If I stay married, the marriage turns out awesome because I make it awesome, and if I leave, my life is awesome because I make it awesome. So knowing that either way I could have an amazing life, which one do I choose?

Whoa. This clears up decision making so quickly, right? And it’s true: you can feel awesome either way (but that’s another blog post).

4. The next thing I want you to consider is one of my faves. It’s that can you say yes to both things.
I LOVE having it all;)

It’s super common to think “either this or that” when we are considering our options. We think one automatically excludes the other. This is a really great time to get coached!

We often think that if we say yes to one of them, we’re saying no to the other. Sometimes we don’t want to say no to the other, so we don’t make a decision.

But what if you could say yes to both things? Gasp!

Like, “Should I leave my job to become to a life coach?” What if you could keep your job and become a life coach in the evening? What if you could have both? Would you choose both instead of saying yes to one or no to the other?

I am really good at this because I’ve learned over many years to be efficient with my time. I get to do a lot of different things – I coach clients all over the world, I catch babies, I got my doctorate, I help people in integrative medicine, I volunteer in remote areas, I lead retreats, I teach new healthcare providers how to be good at providing care and being compassionate with their patients…

Do I do them all at the same time? Of course not! But I get to do them;)

Many people I know would have just chosen one of those things. And that’s OK too! It’s just that sometimes, you don’t have to. I decided I didn’t want to say yes to one and no to the other. (And it’s also not because I don’t sleep. I love me some sleep;)

5. Ask your “Future Self,” the you 10 years into the future, what they think, and why.
Remember that your Future Self has already learned the Big Lessons and who knows exactly what you need to do to manifest your ideal life.

When I’m making big decisions, I often ask my future self what should I do and why. It was one of the first tricks they taught me during my first coach training in 2009, and it sticks because it is really, really good! She always seems to know exactly what to do.

When I think of myself 10 years from now, at 55 years old (!!!), what do I tell myself? It’s crazy how much wiser I am. I always have the best answers;)

6. Give yourself a deadline to make the decision.
That’s right. You could go on and one ruminating. At some point, you need to stop it. There’s Parkinson’s Law: The amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task. That includes decisions.

When the deadline arrives, make the decision and move forward.

I mean really, how long are you going to be deciding?

There’s actually no risk in deciding. The only risk you have is in the decision, in making the decision.

So give yourself until, say, the end of the month, or the end of next month, or the end of the week, and then you will decide one way or the other to do something.

That might feel scary to you. It did for me. But that means you’re doing it right. It’s okay to be afraid! Making decisions is what helps us move forward, to grow and evolve.

Know what else? It also helps us take action and therefore increases our confidence, because we juice up our confidence when we take action and learn from it. It also saves us time since we stop wasting time deciding!

7. Go over what is the best and worst-case scenario for each of your options.
I like doing this because the worst-case scenario often doesn’t feel as bad as I think it will when I play it out. Plus, what we often find out in the end is that the worst-case scenario is missing out on the best-case scenario;)

8. I saved the best for last. One that works for me consistently is asking, “What moves me towards who I want to be?”
So just be really clear and answer the question, “What moves you toward who you want to be?” It’s that simple. It works. Sometimes, another way to ask this can be to ask, “How do I want to feel?” Pick the thing that helps you feel that way. I do that a lot when I ask, “What will help me feel more free?” Deep down, you know what will move you towards who you want to be. And that, my friend, is what really matters.

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