Awhile back, my wife and I were having a tough time related to a decision we needed to make. It was a big decision that would impact our family, and we didn’t know what to do. We both started to get anxious about the decision, and it was negatively affecting our mood and physical health (e.g., headaches, trouble sleeping).
Jenn and I tend to have different strategies when trying to make a decision. I’m an analyzer by nature, so I try to understand all the options and write down a detailed list of pros and cons. Jenn can be analytical as well, but she also tries to listen to her feelings and emotions. Even with our different strategies, both of us weren’t sure what to do. It felt like we were spinning around, never reaching a decision.
5 Tips for Making a Decision
What are some ways to help reach a decision when it isn’t clear what to do? Here are 5 tips that have been helpful for me:
- Recognize that there may not be one “right” answer. If you’re generally pretty good at decision-making, but for some reason you are struggling to make a decision right now, it might be because there isn’t necessarily one “right” answer. Sometimes you might have two options, and they are close. As much as you analyze and weigh the pros and cons, one choice might not be much better than the other. This is a tough place to be, but the other way to think about it is that either decision is probably okay.
- Understand that the future is uncertain. Part of the challenge with making decisions is that the future is uncertain. We can make educated guesses about what is more likely to happen, but the reality is that we don’t always know. Again, this is a challenging place to be. As human beings, we have limited control over the future.
- Get feedback from others. We weren’t meant to do life alone. One of the great things about being in community with others who care about us is that we can reach out and talk through our decisions with others, and get their feedback. Other people might be able to offer a different perspective, or ask us questions that spur on our thinking. When you’re struggling with a decision, lean on your community. They can’t make the decision for you, but they might be able to help you process what you’re wrestling with.
- Pray. If you are a religious or spiritual person, it can be helpful to pray to God for guidance. The apostle Paul encourages us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Through prayer, you might experience a nudge or leaning one way or the other.
- Do your best and make a call. You can’t put off making a decision forever. At some point, you just have to make a call. Gather all the information, get feedback from those who love you, pray about it, and then make a decision. If it is helpful for you, give yourself a time limit to make the decision. Then, pick a direction and go with it. Remember that life is an experiment. You won’t always get it right, but it’s usually better to make a decision and get moving. You can learn and adjust as you go.
What has been helpful for you when you’re trying to make a decision and things aren’t clear? Which of the 5 ideas might be helpful for you right now?