Gosh, this got off to a good start with my new article. My plan: to write an article on the topic of decisions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even decide how I wanted to start this article. Three lines written, three lines deleted, four new ones written, four deleted again. Well, that’s how it is with decisions: there are usually several options, one apparently better than the other. These pros and cons can quickly lead to stress, because you have the feeling that you don’t know which decision is supposedly the right one. In my eyes, however, this is the crux of the matter. The search for the perfect decision is the reason why many feel stressed by the decision-making process. Of course, we all want to achieve the best possible result and experience only positive consequences of a decision if possible. However, we live in a very complex world where many factors play into every decision, so it is usually not clear which will lead to a more positive outcome. Last but not least, the wide range of choices available to us doesn’t make it much easier either. As part of a Working Out Loud (WOL) Circle specifically under the motto #StrengtheningWomen, I am currently also dealing with the topic of decisions myself and how I can make them better on the basis of my personal values. I would like to share my findings with you.
Different options are not necessarily better or worse, but simply different
As I have already stated, there are often complex aspects to decisions that are worth taking into account. The “bigger” the decision is, the more aspects have an influence on the decision. The greatest fear of us humans is probably to overlook something, thus making the wrong decision and suffering financial damage, hurting someone or losing something. Therefore, it is quite clear that certain decisions should not be made within seconds or minutes. This is where weighing options is important. It is helpful to look at each option from different angles. A classic pros and cons list certainly does no harm here and can help to get an overview of the individual options. Ideally, by applying such a method, it becomes clear quite quickly which is the decision you want to and should choose, because everything points to your current situation being improved by the decision. Sometimes, and these are the decisions that probably stress you out the most, advantages and disadvantages balance each other out. So the perfect solution that many of us strive for is not obvious in such cases. In such a situation, it has helped me in recent weeks to look at options in a value-free way. Because let’s be honest, when we talk to other people about the decision-making situation, it often happens that we also get different opinions. So that doesn’t help us either. But it’s only natural, everyone has a different view of things and brings their own reality to the table. So if you just look at options as options and not as good or bad, it takes the pressure off to find the perfect solution.
Not making a decision is also a decision
The first insight also leads me to my second insight on the subject. Weighing decision options is important and analysing the consequences of each decision is essential. Certainly, it is also helpful to use one’s brain and see what other options, apart from the most obvious one, are available. But too much of it can also lead to stiffness, so that you put off a decision for a long time. If you are not careful, the decision may be taken away from you, e.g. if you think too long about taking the new job, the other candidate will be hired. In fact, in my eyes, a non-decision is still a decision. You decide to leave the outcome and the choice in the hands of others. That too can sometimes be helpful. But in my eyes, it leads more often to dissatisfaction than to satisfaction. Therefore, be aware that if you don’t make a decision, it still means you are making one.
Listen to your gut
As trite as it may sound, your gut is usually your best compass as to which option might be right for you. Of course, it helps to confront facts and look at things rationally. But your gut usually sees more than your rational thinking. Your gut feeling is your subconscious, which communicates with you. Millions and millions of impressions and data are stored in the subconscious, which your brain cannot always call up completely, but your subconscious can. Your gut, however, communicates with you differently. Your brain sends you numbers, data and facts that you can clearly compare and contrast. Your gut sends you feelings and emotions that can sometimes be quite diffuse and can also deviate from the rational insights. That’s when it gets confusing. My tip and my insight: If you can’t understand exactly what your gut is telling you, take time and a quiet moment to listen carefully, then it will tell you what the right decision is for you.
You can dance in the rain too
So we conclude: in order to avoid stress when making decisions, it is helpful to consider options as such, to make a decision in the first place and to always include your gut. Well then, nothing can go wrong. Well, if it were that simple. I think we can agree that my insights are all well and good, but the implementation is not necessarily that easy. It certainly takes a bit of practice. I agree. Moreover, the insights don’t necessarily take away the fear of making decisions. I can see that. However, we haven’t yet talked about my last and, in my opinion, most important insight, which puts my previously described aspects in a different and lighter light. Sure, it can always happen that a decision does not bring the intended result. Sure, it can happen that we realise afterwards that the other option might have been better for us. Yeah, so what? We are still alive! We have the possibility to reverse a decision or to take a completely different path. With every decision, we change the starting position and open up new possibilities. Decisions are not necessarily final, we can always try to make the best of a situation. Yes, even in the rain we can dance!
Feel free to write me how you deal with decisions. Either here or directly via mail.