6 Expert-Approved Tips for Making Difficult Life Decisions
Deep dish or wood-fired? iPhone 7 or 7 Plus? These are the decisions that keep us awake most of the time. While the majority of life’s choices are relatively arbitrary, some — like whether to start your dream business or not — call for deeper thought and self-searching. For these moments, Dr. Patrick Wanis, a human behavior expert, has some advice that can give you more insight into the reasons why you choose certain things over others.
“You have to go through this decision-making process, because that’s how you learn about yourself,” Dr. Wanis said. “The younger you are, the more important it is to question your values in your decisions.”
Whether choosing a college, job or spouse, these six steps are designed to help you understand the root of the choice you’re making, as well as how to tackle the decision head-on.
1. Redefine hard. “Change the way you view the question,” Dr. Wanis says. “You can say it’s important, but not hard. The minute you tell the brain it’s hard, you’re saying that it’s going to be uncomfortable and difficult and that you might not be able to do it.”
2. Know that it probably isn’t final. When considering your options, Wanis encourages us to give 100 percent to the choices we make. However (after you’ve given it your all), it’s important to know that you are allowed to change that decision if it isn’t truly what you want.
3. Ask yourself why. Dr. Wanis stresses the importance of this step. “Before I make my decision, I look at the motivations,” he said. “The reason I teach that the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘how’ is because if your ‘why’ does not match who you are — your authentic self — when you get challenged, when the going gets really tough, you will drop out.”
4. Look at the consequences. Or, as Dr. Wanis says, look at the possible variable outcomes. When making an important life decision, also consider the opportunities and possibilities that a certain choice presents. For example, if you choose to move to California for work, it’s a possible outcome that you’ll experience warmer weather.
5. Do a values check. Go right to the root of a decision: If you’re choosing between colleges, for instance, choose the one that aligns best with your values of hard work rather than one that’s more socially focused. “Values are an important part of fulfillment, satisfaction and success in life,” Dr. Wanis says.
6. Make the decision and stick to it. Plain and simple.
Do you have a method for making hard decisions? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)