Making a difficult decision is never easy, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of options you have to choose from or the complexity they foster. Indecision can be a massive drain on your time but also on your nerves and resources. You may feel paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice, a fear that fuels your procrastination and keeps you stuck in a cycle of defeat and frustration.
Here are four steps that will help you make difficult decisions without feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Get Clear on What You Truly Want
Making a difficult decision can be challenging.
So before making a list of your options or weighing their pros and cons, you have to get clear on the outcome you want to reach. What do you hope to achieve and why?
Answering this question will help you clearly identify your targets but also streamline and structure the decision-making process. One way to do this is to visualize your goals and decide whether they are in alignment with your core values.
For example, if you’re offered a job that involves a lot of travel and you deeply value the time you spend with your family, making the decision to take that job would clearly violate your guide rules.
You won’t be able to gain any clarity or insight if you don’t get honest and specific with what you hope to accomplish.
Identify and Evaluate Your Options
Once you identify the outcomes you hope to reach, take the time to think about all the options at your disposal, the obvious and the not so obvious. Some options may look good at first glance, and you may even feel pressured or tempted to go a certain route.
However, it’s essential that you take a step back and exhaust your list of potential options. This will most likely require a brainstorming session where you write down a list of every possible decision and its alternatives before you settle on the one that makes the most sense in your case.
Weigh The Pros and Cons
Now is the time to weigh the pros and cons of every possibility and every option available to you.
Create a list that accounts for every detail, big or small, regarding your decision -including the upsides and downsides of each option, the consequences, and the potential outcome.
Take a piece of paper and write it all down. When making a difficult decision, you may have a preferred option in mind, or you may have an inclination toward an option a friend or colleague suggested. Avoid choosing those automatically.
Put those options under scrutiny as well and do your best to judge them as objectively as possible. Compiling all this information will help you get a better idea of the strongest as well as weakest contenders.
Then begin the process of elimination until you ultimately make your final decision.
Assess The Outcome and Revise as Needed
After you choose the option with the least consequential drawbacks (or the one with the most advantages), it’s time to develop appropriate metrics to measure the success of that decision and its outcome.
If the result is not as satisfactory as you anticipated, you can always revise your plan and fine-tune your strategy as needed. With that said, when making a difficult decision, not every option you choose will prove to be successful or worthwhile.
Sometimes, your decision may end up in a complete failure but with the right mindset, you can reframe that failure into a learning experience or an incentive to redirect your efforts towards something different.
Life is full of difficult decisions.
We’re faced with dozens of tough choices on a daily basis, but this doesn’t mean the process has to be overwhelming. Laying a strong foundation to make difficult decisions is essential, using the 4 steps explained in this article will allow you to be more efficient and analytical of the possibilities available to you so you can stop agonizing over which option to choose.