It’s Dr. Kelly Wood, your Balanced Living Health and Wellness expert. My mission is to help women overcome their limitations and achieve total wellness and balanced living: mind,body and spirit. I do this through my blog, speaking and individualized group and VIP Balanced Living programs.
I hate making difficult decisions. If I’m faced with the dilemma of choosing one option over another, forget about it! Chances are I will have at least one night of insomnia where I ruminate over if I’m making the right decision and each and every possible disastrous consequence which would occur if I don’t. I don’t have this problem with decisions like what to wear or which restaurant to eat at (even though I have been known to change my mind a few times on what I want to eat) but the really hard decisions like which guy to date or recently which job to choose.
Everyone was telling me I was in a really good position when recently I had two job offers on the table. And I agreed, but I still had some level of anxiety about which direction I should go in. Someone told me taking a job is like entering a marriage and you really have to take your time and make the best choice. Why did they have to tell me that? Talk about added pressure!
If one option was clearly better, it would’ve been easy but they were both good options. Just different options. For a few days, I felt really uneasy. I had my required night of insomnia and I wanted to make a decision as soon as possible. Thankfully, I had two mentors who told me to slow waaaaaayyyyy down and gain clarity on what I needed and wanted in a job. It was difficult for me to take a time-out and be comfortable with this tension, but once I figured out what I really wanted, I was able to make a decision. A decision I was at peace with.
How can we overthinkers get better at the tough decisions? Here are a few tips!
1.Take your time, but not too much time
In order to alleviate the discomfort created in our minds from having to make the decision, we rush and make poorly thought out choices. Take your time to examine what you really want and which choice would help you achieve your goals and are consistent with your values. On the flip side, don’t spend so much time gathering information that you end up with analysis paralysis.
2. There’s no right or wrong choice
We have more anxiety about making a decision when we believe one is right and the other is wrong. But have you considered that maybe neither is wrong and that whichever choice you do make, you will do everything in your power it to ensure success? You’ll be OK.
3. Accept that you have to give up something
You can’t have it all. Making a decision will sometimes close a door such as taking your career in one direction versus another. Would you have been more fulfilled? Would you be happier if you had chosen a different partner? You will never know. Rather than focus with the “what ifs”, put your energy into living in the present moment.
4. Reduce your anxiety
Research has shown that anxiety disrupts the brain cells in the prefrontal cortex (located in the frontal lobes of the brain). These brain cells are responsible for the decision making process. Strategies for reducing anxiety such as taking slow, deep breaths (or whatever work for you) which will put you in a calmer state of mind can help you make better choices.
Prefrontal cortex (PFC) in red.
5. Embrace uncertainty
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. We tend to want to ensure that whatever decision we make will yield optimal results. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like this, we will never be 100% sure. If you wait until all of your doubts disappear you will be waiting forever.
6. Accept mistakes
You might have made a choice that didn’t turn out the way you expected. We all do! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You made the best decision with the information you had before you. In any case, mistakes are your biggest teachers. Learn well and try not to repeat the same class.
7. Trust your gut
If all else fails, trust your instincts. Are your internal bells going crazy, telling you not to enter the relationship or to do business with someone? Or maybe you just feel uneasy and know that something isn’t right. This is our brain’s way of using a combination of logic and emotion and the ability just know things without conscious reasoning. Don’t ignore it!
We are all faced thousands of decisions daily, most of which are made without much awareness but decision making especially when it comes to important matters is a skill we all need to master to achieve personal success.
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