This is one of my favourite topics and the reason why about 90% of my coaching clients come to me for support! Decisions! It’s the core of the quarter life crisis- some of the biggest decisions that we make in our lives happen in our 20s and 30s in relation to travel, love and dating, career, where we’re going to settle, what we’re going to do with our lives. It’s overwhelming for so many people because a) there’s so many choices and b) we don’t know how to make decisions!
What happens then is we tend to get quite paralysed, get into cycles of over-thinking, start feeling anxious and feel unable to make a decision out of fear of choosing the wrong thing. So many of us are so terrified of making mistakes that we’re searching for absolute certainty in our decisions- which simply doesn’t exist. So we end up feeling powerless, unable to decide so we stay exactly where we are and wonder why we’re not making any progress on the big dreams we had for ourselves.
So if you’re struggling with making decisions or is there’s a big choice that’s keeping you up at night? Then this will really help you make better decisions. I’ve loads of tips to share with you.
1. Head or Heart
This always comes up and I know you’ll understand what I mean. This is when everything looks good on the surface and on paper BUT you know in your heart that something isn’t right. This could be a decision you need to make about your career, a relationship or travelling etc.
Your head is telling you that this is how it should be, you are where you’re supposed to be but your heart is aching knowing that you’re truly not happy. Do you hand in your notice and do the scary thing you dream of? Do you have that difficult conversation and end the relationship even though you’re comparing yourself to all your friends who are engaged, getting married and having babies. So- do you make decisions from your head or your heart?
I believe you should always make decisions from your heart. Absolutely make use of your head- use it for the practical planning, the maths, the logistics. But for happiness, your bigger picture and the feel of the decision- always go inwards and check with your heart.
2. Lean into how the decision feels
When you think about the decision ask yourself ‘ Will this expand me, will this help me grow, will it expand my future, will it expand my possibilities, is it in alignment with my values- with what’s truly important to me?’ If the answer is Yes, then the decision is Yes no matter how terrifying or out of your comfort zone it may feel.
Ask yourself ‘Will this make me smaller, will it silence me, will I be holding back part of myself, will it shrink me, will it inhibit me or my growth in any way?’ If the answer is Yes, then the decision is NO- no matter how safe or easy that path may feel to you right now.
3. Understand The Long Game
The short-term impact of heart based decisions
This is a really important aspect to decision making which is often overlooked. When faced with a decision, often we just think of the immediate impact and feeling. Think about it- a relationship that you know isn’t working and you know your heart is saying that it’s decision is this relationship needs to end. If you just focused on the short term impact and emotions- it would make it more difficult to make that decision. Often the short term impact of our heart based decisions are terrifying because it means change. It means starting something new, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, going into unchartered territory or having really difficult conversations with people. These things are always uncomfortable so you need to brace for impact, get some support and practice self care as you’re going through it.
The long term impact of heart based decisions
This is a whole other ball game! If you allowed yourself to visualise and really picture the long term impact of a heart based decision- it can really be a game-changer. This is where all the good stuff comes from, it shapes us, it shows us that we are courageous, that we value ourselves and our happiness. This is where your best life will come from- living a life that is true to you not one that you just ended up living because it was safe.
4. The Power Of Objectivity
This is like a Jedi mind trick- it’s basically the ability to make a decision from a 3rd party perspective. You know the way we’re all great at giving advice to others? Well, there’s a reason! When you don’t have a direct emotional tie, the decision-making process can be much clearer. And research backs this up–we make better decisions for others than we do for ourselves!. So the solution here is to take an objective, zoomed-out, third-party objective stance on the decision to be made.
Think of someone you admire- what would they do in this situation? If it was a friend in this exact situation, what would you advise them and why?
5. Take time to reflect but don’t agonise
Your life comes down to the decisions that you make. I’m not joking. We make, on average 35,000 decisions each day. Most we’re not even aware of, but yet some we agonise over for weeks, months and even years. It’s important to reflect and take time on big decisions that will impact your life but set a deadline on it. Get support if you need to so that you can make the decision and start making progress in your life.
6. Learn who you are and what’s best for you.
I wrote an ebook years ago about this, it’s called ‘The Secret to Quarter Life Happiness’ and you can get a free copy from my website. Most of the time, we ask ourselves ‘what do I want?’ but we’re not sure so we either start polling other people, we look at what others are doing and we make our decisions from that space. Then we put our heads down and get on with it- we choose a particular degree because that’s what our parents wanted us to do etc. The biggest reason why so many people struggle to know what they want is because they don’t know who they are.
It may sound dramatic but it’s the truth. So many people don’t know what they believe in, they don’t know what’s important to them, what their values are, they don’t know how to recognise their successes or praise themselves, they don’t know what energises them, they don’t know how to say yes to what feels good and how to say no to what feels bad. We don’t want to be rude, we don’t want to put people out, we don’t want to have difficult conversations so we bend, shift and contort ourselves into the shapes of who we think we’re supposed to be- into who we think society wants us to be. Then we try to make a decision for our own happiness and we get stuck…..
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to spend some time getting to know yourself, understanding your likes, your dislikes, your passions, your pet hates. Get on your own side and learn all about you because it’s when you really know yourself, you’re in a much better position to decide what’s best for you.
Love Paula x
I’d love to chat to you about how we could work together so please book in for a free 30 minute discovery call here!