8 Tips For Making Tough Decisions in Your Life


Car or public transportation?

Eggs or waffles?

Every day, we are bombarded with choices that we have to make. Choices can vary from easy ones like the ones already mentioned to difficult ones like business decisions or choices that involve a lot of money like cars and houses. Difficult choices drain our energy both physically and mentally as it needs a lot of work to make sure you are making the right decision. But with effort and out-of-the-box techniques, you may break the tie.

Here are tips for making difficult decision:

Do Proper Research

The most important part of making a decision is the research effort done before it. This is because research will help you differentiate from Choice A, B to C. These details are what will essentially do the heavy lifting in helping you make a decision. The devil is in the details.

For instance, you are considering which college or university for your child to attend. Research will show the placement rates, the tuition, room and board costs, campus life factors, and their reputation around your degree path. The data collection step is critical to help you narrow your choices and elevate the best options. Else, you will be skating on thin ice since you will be prone to making life-shattering choices.

Think Through Each Option

When solving a problem, you will need to consider all the available options present on the table. Making a decision will be difficult if you only have one choice, so make sure you have all the choices laid down on the table. One by one, consider why it is a good or bad choice to make. Think of it as a flow chart. If you decide one way, where might that path lead?

If you are ill and need to take on a medical procedure, you will want to know all of your options. You may consider alternative medicine, seek a second opinion or a whole different type of procedure or treatment altogether. Combing through each option will help you confidently pick the path you ultimately choose.

Make a Pros and Cons list

The Pros and Cons list may seem like an outdated trick to making the right decisions. In fact, it is not as outdated as you think and can even help you unravel the tangled web of confusion and indecisiveness you are experiencing. Putting your options down in black and white helps you to weigh your outcomes, literally.

One excellent example is when you are being offered a new job.

Should you stay at your current job or move to a new job?

Grab a legal notepad or a piece of paper and write down “stay” or “move” at the top of your page. Under each header, write out all pros and cons of each including research data, opinions, benefits, and risks involved in each decision. This process will help you clear your mind and help with the confusion. An indicator of the better choice would usually be the column with the lengthiest list. However, you still have a few more steps to complete that will help you feel more confident about your tough decision.

Consider Others’ Opinions

Making your own decision is the most important part of any ordeal, however talking to others can shed new light to the dilemma you are facing. Some people you would need to talk to are people who’ve been down this road before, family, friends, colleagues, mentors, coaches, and anyone who is affected by this tough decision.

Be prepared to make the decision with questions related to the problem you are having, which will help you get real-time opinions and advice. Not only will they give you great insight, but they can also give you constant support which will remind you that you are not alone in the process.

Why Do You Need To Make This Decision?

Other than the results of the decision, the ‘why’ matters just as much. This is because you will be able to clearly understand your motivation to make a decision. The more important a decision, the more time you will need to dedicate to getting that decision right.

One example of a universal motivation is by researcher Abraham Maslow. According to his paper ‘A theory of Human Motivation’, humans have a variety of motivations depending on their level of needs. This motivation model already encompasses all of the motivation and why we strive for more, making it clear ‘why’ we make these tough decisions.

The most basic level, Physiological refers to primal needs such as eating, drinking and having a place to rest. Safety needs refer to having a home in a place that is secure where you can live without fear. On the other hand, Belonging and love are critical to mental health and well-being. Esteem needs refer to the subtleties of self-esteem, achievement, and having the respect of others. The top levels of the pyramid are the growth needs. The summit of the pyramid, transcendence, refers to moving from the focus on self to true altruism, helping others without reward.

What do you value most?

Another way for making tough decisions is to assess your values. If you are one without any particular personal values, think it over. You can find personal values embedded in experiences you have gone through or even things that you value in yourself, your inner circle, loved ones and even other other figures that inspired motivation in you. By following through a decision based on personal values, you will be making a decision that is true to your heart.

Some of the traits you may value most may include:

Accountability   Honesty

Equality                Friendship

Environmental Responsibility      Intelligence

Creativity             Vegetarianism / Veganism

Community        Religion / Spirituality

Dependability    Moderation

Discipline             Risk-Taking

Enthusiasm         Independence

Fairness               Stability

Happiness & Harmony   Status

Wealth Wisdom

Be both emotional and logical

Most of the time when making tough decisions, the emotional and logical side of the brain play a huge role in getting results. We can’t deny the importance of emotions in making decisions, but being logical can balance it out if you are leaning too much into your emotions. Our emotions make a huge effect on our decision-making process, for instance when it comes to the choice of partner or choices of friends.

However, we need to include our logical side when making decisions even in the aspects mentioned above. Imagine that your friends are taking and selling class A drugs. Take the logical decision by separating yourself from them to avoid the inevitable negative chain of events in the future and find new friends instead. Any decision you make should be a good logical choice but also sit well with you emotionally.

Remove yourself from the situation

When you are experiencing dilemma, it would also help you to think from an outsider’s perspective. It helps you stay rational and consider other options and even be more open to compromises, which can be helpful when your decision impacts others. This is especially important when you are solving an emotional dilemma as removing yourself from the situation can help you refocus and look at the facts of what’s in front of you.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any other tips in solving difficult dilemmas? Share your opinion in the comments section below!