Major Life Changes: 6 Strategies for Making Tough Decisions

Major Life Changes: 6 Strategies for Making Tough Decisions

64 percent of people admit that they’ve missed out on a big opportunity because they were unable to make a decision quick enough.

When it comes to tough decisions, it’s best to approach them carefully. But some decisions, like accepting a job offer or making an offer on a house, can disappear if you don’t act quickly.

Are the “what-ifs” keeping you from progressing in life? Keep reading for effective strategies for making tough decisions.

1. Make a Pro-Con List

Wondering how to make a difficult decision? Always start with making a pro-con list.

Write the overall issue at the top of a piece of paper. Then, divide the rest of the paper into two columns, one for pros and one for cons. Think of all the possible effects and outcomes of the decision and decide whether they are negatives or positives in your life.

The hard part comes when comparing the two columns.

Just because you have more pros than cons, doesn’t necessarily mean the opportunity is a positive one. Instead, you could have five minor good outcomes and two big bad outcomes. In this case, the two bad outcomes would outweigh the five small positive ones.

Try to rank each pro and con on a scale of 1-5 in terms of how much the item would affect you. A huge pay increase would be a 5 in the pro column, but a 5-minute longer commute might be a 1 in the con column.

2. Think on It Overnight

Another great way to figure out how to make a hard decision is to not make a decision right away. This may sound counterintuitive — after all, the whole point is to make a decision as quickly as possible. Right?


By slowing down and giving yourself time to think about the decision, you take a lot of the pressure away from the process. Instead of feeling rushed, allow yourself to think about the decision overnight. Often times, the answer will seem clear and obvious after a good night’s sleep.

3. Test out the Decision

Another helpful tip for how to make difficult decisions is to try testing out the decision. Obviously, you can’t test out all decisions in life, but some you can — and should.

If you’re considering moving to a new town to be closer to family, consider renting an Airbnb or hotel room for a week instead. See if you like how the town is laid out, search for possible job opportunities, and get a feel for how the local schools rank. After just a short period of time, you’ll be able to make a more educated decision when it comes to whether you want to live there permanently.

For these experiments, it’s always best to start out by writing all the questions you wish to figure out during the trial run. During the test phase, take notes of things you notice and how you’re feeling about the experience. Then, after the trial run, you can sit down with your initial questions and answer them to come up with a decision.

4. Ask for Help

Making tough decisions isn’t meant to be easy, that’s why they’re called tough decisions. But, like most things in life, decision making is easier with a little help.

Talk to your spouse, mom, sibling, friend, or anyone who will listen about the issue. Present the decision and the possible outcomes in a way not to sway their opinion on the matter. If you find that you can’t explain the decision without slanting to one side, then you’ve already made the decision in the back of your mind.

Then, ask them for advice. Find out what decision they would make and what they think of the possible outcomes.

If it’s a decision that you don’t want to share with someone you’re close with, seek out the help of a professional. For example, you could ask for advice through a psychic reading or a counseling session.

5. Consider What a Role Model Would Do

Need more help making a decision? Stop and consider what a role model would do in the same situation.

Many religious people use the phrase, “what would Jesus do?” when overwhelmed with decisions. This allows a person to approach the situation from a values standpoint and can provide a clearer view of the issue.

But if you’re not religious, you can use the same method with any role model, from a celebrity to a family member. Think about how they would react in the situation and why they would pick a certain outcome.

6. Listen to Your Gut

If all the other steps haven’t led you to a clear decision, try listening to your gut instinct. Odds are when you think about the issue your brain and body react in a particular way.

Do your palms start to sweat and your stomach churn when you think about the possibilities? Or do you feel the subtle excitement and get jittery considering the opportunities that lie ahead?

Experts say that your gut feeling is actually your intuition in action. Based on your life decisions, your brain is able to know the right decision before you’re even aware of it.

Make Tough Decisions a Thing of the Past

Using these strategies, you can make battling through tough decisions a thing of the past.

Start by making a pro-con list and thinking about the decision overnight. If you can, consider testing out the opportunity for a period of time or ask for help from a trusted source. If that doesn’t help, consider what a role model would do in the situation.

And most important of all — always listen to your gut when it comes to decision making.

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