When asked my biggest flaw, the first thing that comes to mind (if I’m being honest) is my indecisiveness. This issue dates back to when I was just a little kid. I experienced extreme distress over choosing between the chicken nuggets or the mac & cheese and could never pick between my Barbies and my Legos—asking me to do so was just appalling, offensive even. And I continued to experience this difficulty as I aged, which was rather unfortunate because I started facing more important decisions: Which college should I attend? What do I want to do for the rest of my life? Where do I want to live? Is this job the right one for me?
Needless to stay, I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns. Luckily, however, I have slowly become more decisive thanks to a few strategies I’ve learned over the years. Now, not only do I make decisions more promptly, but more effectively. And I’m subsequently a more confident, collected individual. Are you an indecisive individual hoping for a similar happy ending? Well, fortunately for you, I’m going to let you in on my secrets. Here are eight strategies, sure to assist you in making those gut-wrenching decisions:
1) Make a pros and cons list.
Pros and cons lists are well known… and often overlooked. This old trick might be the oldest one in the book, but it is an effective way to reach a smart decision. Oftentimes, simply writing down the upsides and the downsides will help you realize the obvious choice. This list can also serve as a great reference to look back at, if you begin questioning your decision later down the road.
2) Go with your gut.
In college, I struggled through a lot of difficult decisions—but usually I knew deep down what the right choice was. For example, I had the long-standing option to change my major. It didn’t matter how far into school I was, that possibility was always there; so, I was constantly asking myself, am I in the right department, should I be studying something else, am I making the right decision? These questions came with a lot of headaches, but I eventually learned to listen to and trust in my gut.
3) Take the road less-traveled.
If you’re feeling adventurous, and there really is no obvious solution, consider taking the road less-traveled. This is a technique I use when the stakes are low, such as when deciding which restaurant I want to eat at tonight, or which purchase I want to splurge on. It makes these simpler (yet ever-difficult) decisions fun and offers an easy foolproof solution for them.
4) Ask the opinion of others.
Sure, the decision is ultimately yours, but it doesn’t hurt to get an outsider’s perspective. Whenever I find myself in a hard place, I ask my dad for his opinion—it’s often not what I want to hear, but it’s always what I need to hear. And I’m always able to make a confident decision after doing so. You can apply this same technique to simpler situations as well, especially when others are involved. For example, maybe you can’t decide on weekend plans—ask your friends if they have any preferences and see if they can’t provide an easy solution.
5) Tune into your imagination.
Another effective strategy is to tune into your imagination and really envision yourself making this decision: Which route leads to a happier you? Which bears the most weight? Which brings you peace? This will allow you to better understand how this decision can affect you down the road and it can shed some light on what’s the right or most beneficial choice.
6) Map it out.
Say you’re making a really difficult, important decision—and making a pros and cons list just won’t get the job done. Well, then consider mapping the issue out in its entirety. Write down your options, consider the pros and cons, record any research, report on your overall feelings… the list goes on. The goal here is to get everything—questions, concerns, what-ifs—down on paper and out of your head. This way you can think more clearly and also not wonder later if you made the right decision: you did, you considered absolutely everything.
7) Learn from your mistakes.
Another simple, yet helpful practice for making smart decisions: look back on what hasn’t worked in the past. You know what they say, history repeats itself. Oftentimes, we’re faced with a decision that resembles a past one—when you find yourself in this predicament, consider earlier mistakes and go a different route. Utilize trial and error.
8) Embrace the path you’ve chosen.
Most importantly, embrace the path you’ve chosen once you’ve chosen it. Don’t live in fear of what could go wrong—instead, be confident in the decision that you’ve made. And vow to make the most of it, even if it does yield some hurdles or difficulties. Remember: everything comes with a little risk and nothing, nobody is perfect.