How to Make Difficult Decisions

Making decisions can be difficult, especially when we fear making the wrong one. Fear can often get in the way of making a decision, or even trusting ourselves to do so. Below I have laid out some steps that I encourage you to take when faced with a tough decision. Having a strategy can drastically increase the number of good decisions that you can continue to make over time, as well as cut failure rates by nearly 50%.

1. Identify the problem

  • Think about the core issue and why it is important to you.

  • Try and remove yourself from the situation and allow yourself to think more rationally as an "outsider" would.

  • Ask yourself "why" multiple times. Identify why the original issue has occurred and why it happened. Each time you ask yourself "why," the answer should get deeper.

2. Explore potential options

  • Once you've identified the problem, look at all potential options.

  • Write down every alternative solutions without judgment.

  • Invite other people to give you their input if you are still stuck.

3. Evaluate those options

  • Narrow down your list (to 5 options), removing any poor and unrealistic options or ideas.

  • Identify any risks for each option.

  • Envision yourself making each decision and living with that decision.

  • What impact would that decision have on the situation in 1 year?

  • Can you spot any problems?

  • How do you FEEL?

4. Select your final decision

  • Take a time out after the evaluation step.

  • Revisit your list of 5 (or less) options and with an objective mind, choose the option that makes the most sense to you.

  • Share your decision with a trusted loved one to sense-check your choice.

  • Follow-up and re-evaluate. Do you still feel good about your choice?

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