How To Deal With The Decision Making Struggle

May 5, 2017

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 3.00.06 PM.png

I have a hard time making decisions.

For people who know me well, or at least those I vent to or come to for advice, this fact is pretty obvious, but to most everyone else it probably looks like I have a clear idea of what I want and where I'm going:

I decided to do my undergrad in Charleston, SC.

I decided to go to law school.

I decided to on a law school in Chicago.

I decided being a lawyer wasn't for me.

I decided to move to Colorado.

I decided to become a life/Beachbody coach.

I decided to take my new job.

But you want to know something? Each of those decisions, and many, many more small ones, have come with a lot of internal struggle and debate. I think a big part of why I have such a hard time making decisions is that I'm the kind of person who thinks through every consequence and where each path would take me. Along with that, I feel a need to make the "perfect" choice, the right choice.

However, I'm slowly learning a very important lesson: there isn't always a right choice. Sure, each choice could lead us down an entirely different path, but wherever you're meant to be in life, you'll get there.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 3.00.36 PM.png

While I definitely still struggle, there are some things I've learned along the way when it comes to making decisions, big or small.

Don't ask everyone else's opinion.

Often, our very first instinct when it comes to big decisions is to ask everyone else's opinion. Sometimes you want other ideas, sometimes you hope someone will say exactly what you need to hear, and other times you just want one person to confirm what you already want, whether you know that consciously or not. The problem with asking everyone else, however, is that your mind can be muddled with everyone else's outside perspective and it's harder to hear your inner voice. If you're a people pleaser, this can also lead to problems when deciding whose advice to take.

If you have someone you really trust and who knows you really well, then talk it through with them but make sure they are doing more listening than talking. Remember, however, that at the end of the day it's best to go with your gut rather than someone else's suggestion.

Ask God's Opinion.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 3.01.52 PM.png

I struggle with this one because, unlike asking your friends and family, you don't get a direct answer from God (or the universe, or whatever higher power you believe in). But taking the time to talk or write out your thoughts and put that burden on God can help lift a weight from your shoulders. Maybe you'll get a clear sign which way to go or not to go, or maybe the answer is silence, simply meaning that it's your choice and either way will work.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

Feel the Feelings.

Are you scared of something? Are you worried that it will all go wrong even if you make the decision that you honestly want the most? Certain thoughts can often pop up in our brain whenever a triggering event happens. Most of the time, these thoughts are repetitive throughout our lives, like you always think "I'm a failure" or "I can't handle complex jobs" or "I'm not smart/pretty/thin/outgoing enough." Most of the time, these thoughts stem from one true example in our past and therefore we believe they're always true. Write these thoughts down and ask yourself, "Is this really true?" More often than not, it's an unfounded fear. Feel that feeling, and then recognize it comes from something untrue. It might be scary, but you have to move forward and prove yourself wrong.

Think About How You'll Feel Afterwards.

Does one direction give you a sense of relief? That's a big sign it's the right direction to go in. Think about how you'll feel if you choose one way or the other. Will you feel good about your decision or will you feel uneasy? Will you feel proud of yourself or will you feel like you've chosen the easy way or the choice that goes against your values or your dreams for your life? One way might be the harder and more difficult choice, but you know you'll feel good once you've accomplished whatever you decided to do.

Test Out Giving Up Control Over The Decision.

I heard this suggestion on the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft. If you truly can't make a decision, take a coin and assign one choice to Heads and one choice to Tails. Flip the coin and whichever side comes up is the decision you'll make. When that side comes up, how do you feel? Do you feel relieved? Do you feel disappointed? Doing this often reveals your true feelings about the decision you're trying to make.

Test The Waters.

When I decided to start my blog, I actually decided to just write for a week. I'd give it one week and if I kept wanting to write, then I'd keep writing. If it wasn't for me, then I'd stop. As you can tell, it's been 5+ years, so I guess I never stopped! If you can, try just testing one option, whether that's trying out a new workout program, shadowing someone at their job, or taking a course in a certain major or profession. While this tactic doesn't work for decisions where it's all or nothing, it can be helpful in some situations.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 3.02.01 PM.png

Sometimes you'll do all these things and still struggle with a choice.

That's the time when you have to just make one, or take some time to see what your gut tells you. When I decided to go to school in Chicago, I took a month of not talking to anyone about it and waiting until I knew I felt like that was where I was meant to be. I couldn't make up my mind at first but eventually, one decision felt right.

On the other hand, I've been debating for months whether or not to take a certain trip this summer. Finances are the biggest reason why I wouldn't go, but I've also thought through how I'll feel either way and there doesn't seem to be a "right" answer. So right now, I'm hoping my gut will kick in or I'll be trying Heads or Tails soon!