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How to Make an Important Decision in 6 Easy to Follow Steps
Is there an important decision that you’re trying to make but you just don’t know what to do? Do you feel overwhelmed and unsure of the ‘right’ course of action?
Most of life’s decisions are trivial. You have to figure out what you want for breakfast or whether to take a jacket to work with you. However, sometimes you’re faced with a decision so big it’s like an elephant sitting on your chest, leaving you short of breath and panicked.
Sometimes you don’t have time to decide and have to act immediately, like in a life or death situation. However, most important decisions can, and should, take time so that you have no regrets down the road.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all decision due to different circumstances, experiences and consequences, there is a process you can follow that works no matter what decision you have to make. Do these six simple steps and you’ll arrive at the right decision for you:
Step 1: List all possible courses of action
Sometimes when faced with an important decision, it’s easy to be impulsive and do the first thing that comes to your mind. Maybe you want to release yourself from the uncomfortable feeling or perhaps you decide what to do out of intense emotion. Either way, if you act too quickly, you risk making the wrong move.
Before you react, list all the options you have available to you. Don’t not write something down because you don’t think it will work. Now is not the time to critique or judge your possibilities. All you’re doing is brainstorming and trying to think outside the box to come up with as many solutions as possible.
Step 2: Define consequences for each action, both positive and negative
Once you feel your list is complete, go back to each possible action and list the consequences if that was what you decided to do. Note the good things and bad things that could happen if that is your choice.
For instance, if your decision is whether or not to purchase a new car, maybe one of your options is to wait a couple years to save up a hefty down payment. Some positive consequences of that action would be that you wouldn’t have a huge car payment now, you’ll have to finance less later and ultimately, you’ll pay less.
Some negative consequences may be that your current vehicle may not last the two years it will take you to save up a good sized down payment, you’re afraid you’ll miss a good deal because it’s time sensitive and quite frankly, you don’t want to spend another day in your beat up bucket of rust.
Step 3: Research anything you need more information about
If you’re lacking some information necessary to make a good decision, don’t do what most people do and just proceed without it. Find out what you need to know. You may be missing something very powerful that makes your decision rather easy to make.
Where do you go to get the information you need? You can find most anything on the internet, just make sure it’s from a reputable source. If your decision involves a material product, go directly to the manufacturer or company and ask for any literature they may have. Talk to experts in the field and get their take on it.
Step 4: Talk to someone you trust
Ask a close friend or family member that you can speak frankly with their opinion. Don’t pick someone who is going to just tell you what you want to hear. Talk to someone that will give you their honest opinion regardless of whether it’s good or bad. They know you best and may be able to see something that you’re overlooking.
Step 5: Search yourself for answers
Sometimes you already know the answer but you’re looking for proof or verification that it’s the right one. Maybe your gut is telling you what you need to do, but you’re having a hard time listening to it.
Now would be a perfect time to do some soul searching. Meditate to clear your mind and focus on the decision at hand. Not only will it make you more capable of making an educated decision, it will also help ease the stress and tension that you may be feeling during the process.
Step 6: Make the decision
Finally, once you’ve completed the previous steps you’re at the point where you’re ready to make your decision. Commit yourself to a path and follow it wherever it may lead.
Will it be the right one? You’ll find out soon enough. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, if you follow this process, you’ll know you made the best decision you could knowing what you know right now. That, my friend, is all you can do.