Ugh, decisions. Some big choices are simple even though they come with high stakes, because somehow you just know exactly what move is right for you. You might even feel like you’ve known the right answer all your life. If you’ve ever had that experience, it just makes the tough decisions that much more frustrating, because you can’t manage to muster that same certainty this time around. It’s great to have options in life, but too many choices can drive us wild, and next to being psychic, there’s no way to know for sure whether we’re making the best decisions in the moment. Whether you’re agonizing over a choice of where to live, what career move to make next, or even who to date, try a few of these tips to step outside your own stressed-out mind for a little perspective.
1. Ask unbiased friends and family members what they think. Anyone who cares about you will find it impossible to be completely unbiased, but I’m referring to people who won’t be directly impacted by your decision. These are the friends who can give you more neutral opinions while still knowing you better than almost anyone. They may be able to point out consequences of your decision that you didn’t think of or see behavior patterns you didn’t notice. Of course, the decision is ultimately up to you, so try to only ask friends who won’t hold it over your head if you don’t take all their advice.
2. Consider what you would tell a friend. This is especially helpful if everyone in your life is too biased to give you good advice on your choice. What if one of your good friends was faced with this same decision? What would you tell them? Is it the same advice you’re leaning toward taking yourself, and if not, why?
3. Obsess over it, then let it go. When your mind works really hard on something then is left to rest, sudden brilliant ideas have a way of popping up when you least expect them. Spend an evening thinking over every outcome of your choice or discussing it with a friend, then go to sleep. You just notice a sudden sense of clarity arriving out of nowhere the next morning on your drive to work.
4. Think about your deathbed. At the end of your life, which of these choices would you most regret not going for?
5. Get real about your priorities. What really means the most to you in life? If you’re choosing where to live, do you care more about a quick commute or a cozier apartment? If it’s a career decision that’s weighing you down, do you care more about a strong work-life balance or a higher salary? You may be surprised about what actually means the most to you when you get down to the details. List them out, and then see where your choices land in relation to the list.
6. Make a pro/con list. It sounds silly, but these really do help!
7. Think about your past decisions. When you’ve made other tough calls in the past, did you ultimately feel like you made the choice that was best for you? If not, what would you change about those choices?
8. Play devil’s advocate with yourself. What if everything you thought about this choice was the opposite? What if those choices pan out totally differently than you’re assuming? Would this change your decision?
9. Use this nifty tool. Something Pop was created to take the subjectivity out of your choices. Rank your priorities and the site will create a fancy spreadsheet just for you, weighing what really makes for the best choice beyond the fuzzy cloud of your short-term emotions.
10. Search for relief. Do any of your options give you a feeling of instant relief, even if that relief is also mixed with some sad feelings? That could be a sign that it’s the best choice for you.
11. Have as few regrets as possible. It’s not realistic to live wholly without regrets, but resolve before making your decision to try your best not to ruminate over them after the choice is made. This will take some of the pressure off in making the best decision you can, and no matter what happens after you make that choice, you’ll know you did the best you could with the limited information you had available. Sometimes, all you can do is take a leap and hope for the best!
Original by Clare Hannum