How to Make Great Decisions, Quickly
Recently, I’ve faced the most difficult decision of my entire life: should I leave my husband or stay? Was this marriage over or would I give it a second chance?
It’s been a gut-wrenching process and a time of shame, guilt and doubt. Our love story started as a whirlwind and never stopped lifting us up or tearing us down. We’ve dealt with many dire situations in the two short years we’ve been together. Debt, mental illness, a bitter custody battle with the German government, had brought me to a point of ‘can’t-do-no-more’.
But I had made a commitment, a vow, and I couldn’t deal with the thought of breaking it. I went back and forth and back and forth, journaled, cried, meditated and still had no clue what to do.
How does one make such a life-changing decision? How does one make the right decision or is there even such a thing?
How do you decide if a marriage has failed, if your chosen career path is just dead wrong for you or if giving everything up to move to a different part of the world is worth it?
The following tips will help you get a clearer picture.
- Consider Your Options
No matter the situation you face, consider all the options available. The good ones, the mediocre ones and the horrible ones. Knowledge is power and the more aware you are of your possibilities the better. Once you know your possibilities, you can slowly eliminate those that go against your core values.
- Consider the Ramifications
What is going to happen in the future? How will this decision affect your life and those of others? Will you have a serious cut in income? Will you have to move? Will you even have to find a new job? Will your self-esteem take a precipitous dip? Will your heart feel broken?
Try to think ahead and imagine if you would be able to handle those changes.
- Be Wary of Too Much Advice
I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but when you’re facing life-changing decisions, too much advice can work against you.
I learned this lesson the hard way. The constant influences from all kinds of people, mostly family though, pulled me in all directions but my own. Through all the noise and all the opinions of others, I had a terrible time figuring out what my own feelings and needs were.
Advice in personal matters clutters your mind and confuses you even more. I know that we often need an outlet and someone we can dump all our emotional baggage on. So, confide in a friend, but know this that nobody knows exactly what it’s like to be in your situation. Nobody has your feelings and emotions, so don’t go looking for other people’s approval in making a decision. At the end of the day you are responsible for the decisions you make for your life.
- Give Yourself Time and Space
Don’t rush into any decisions, especially when they’re determining the direction of your life. Yes, when emotions are involved, we tend to act before we think, but this often backfires, doesn’t it?
So, take your time, maybe go on a retreat for a few days or weeks to get away from everything and clear your mind. A little perspective is never wrong.
- Accept Your Emotions
Accept your emotions as they are. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel or what you think. People change, grow and evolve. It’s part of life and we cannot predict the future. Don’t blame yourself for having outgrown a situation, job or relationship and instead embrace yourself the way you are. Start to understand what love is and what love is not.
The sooner you accept that it’s OK to feel the way you feel, the better you’ll be able to handle the ramifications of your decision.
- Avoid Treading Water
Remember that stalling is just as much a decision as taking the hard steps and making it clear cut. Staying in a bad relationship, holding on to a soul-sucking job or a life-sucking situation out of fear will hurt you more than making the final decision. If you choose to stay put, do so with conviction, not out of anxiety.
- Seek Counselling
I realize that therapy still has a stigma attached to it, but I wouldn’t want to do without it ever again. Weekly counseling sessions have helped me let go of my anorexia and they have been a constant pillar of strength and support in the last difficult months.
If your mind is a tumbled mess, seek a therapist and you’ll see how talking to a person outside of the situation will give you clarity and perspective.
- Listen to Your Heart
Even if you’re the most rational person, listening to your heart is the best strategy to have. After all, your heart’s not lying. It wants the best for you and your life. So, tune in to the silence and what your heart is telling you, be humble and consider it closely.
Stay true to yourself, your values and beliefs no matter which direction you choose to go.
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is an anorexia survivor, self-love ambassador, body image expert and the owner of aMINDmedia. She’s the author of The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Body Image and empowers you to achieve a healthier and more successful life by returning to your true purpose and values.