Making a Difficult Decision? Consider These 3 Things First

Tips to help guide you in the right direction.

Roman Samborskyi/ Shutterstock
Roman Samborskyi/ Shutterstock

We often receive the advice “trust your gut” when faced with a daunting decision — but doing so is easier said than done. But there’s truth to the wisdom. When you feel stuck, there are certain considerations that can help you trust your instincts, guide you in the right direction, and help you feel certain about the decision you make. If you’re having trouble, here are three tips that can help:

Write down your core values

A key part of decision-making comes down to your own personal values: the characteristics and principles that are most important to you. Even when you don’t realize it, your core values guide your everyday actions and choices, and when you’re stuck weighing two options, understanding your values can really help. Try taking a moment to write down what values matter most to you — whether it’s honesty, tradition, authenticity, community, or anything else — and check your decision against those principles.  

Consider your subjective memory

When we’re unsure about a decision, it’s important to differentiate whether it’s logic or personal history that’s making us feel doubt. In fact, a new study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, shows that many people look back on memories to inform their decisions, and then decide based on how they feel about that memory. When you’re weighing your options, be aware of past experiences that could be informing your current choice — and maybe not in a proactive way. While it’s natural for our past to inform our present, you want to be conscious of the potential bias you bring to your decisions. 

Ask someone you trust to weigh in 

Getting a second opinion is another way to objectively evaluate the situation at hand. And chances are, the person you’re asking has probably faced a similar obstacle at some point as well. Approach someone in your life that you trust — whether a friend, family member, or co-worker — and explain the decision you’re faced with. Not only will hearing their reaction help you see the situation from a new perspective, but it will also help you stay resilient and remind you that you’ve faced similar challenges in the past.

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