If feels like we make dozens of decisions every day, but much of what we do is based more on habit than choice. What time we get up. What we have for breakfast. Where we go for a run. What work we do. What we do for fun. Even what we say and how we react to what life offers us is more habit than decision.
So it’s no surprise that on the rare occasion you have to make a tough decision, it’s hard. It’s not something you practice every day.
Here are three ideas to help move you along when it’s time to make a decision.
- Make a list of the pros and cons. Brainstorm a list of the good things and the tougher consequences about this decision. Now look at each item you listed and decide which one or ones carry the most weight. A long list of “pros” can we outdone by one really large consequence or visa versa. If nothing sticks out as carrying greater weight, then go with the longer list. Seeing a decision laid out in two list helps you focus on the issue and gives you a clear vision of where this decision might take you. And you see what sacrifices you are willing to make when you go in a particular direction.
- Tell yourself a story about the outcome of the decision. When you’ve weighed the pros and cons and the decision is clear in your head, “see” yourself in the future living with the decision you are making. If it’s a future you can sit with comfortably, then you’re golden. If it’s a picture that doesn’t sit well in your gut, let the decision sit for a while, then start again with point #1.
- Just decide. As much as you can study a question, and make lists, and ponder the consequences, scientists think our first gut reaction is often the best choice. This method is counter-intuitive. And it’s freeing. Sometimes you’ve got to trust your intuition and just roll.
Sending you organizational love from the hills of Florence, Italy.