Are you someone who struggles to make decisions?
I’m not talking about “what am I going to order for lunch?” kind of decisions, (although trust me, I struggle with those kinds of decisions, too ;)
I’m talking about when you have to make those hard, big life choices that can feel overwhelming and scary.
As a life coach, my clients often come to me for advice when they’re trying to make one of these kinds of big life decisions.
Maybe they’re wondering whether they should quit their jobs, leave a long-term relationship, or finally take the leap to travel or start a business.
Over the years of coaching clients, I’ve realized that I’ve become somewhat of an expert in helping others make decisions. If you’re currently at a crossroads, trying to figure out which path to take, this post is for you. I’ll share ten helpful reminders when you find yourself struggling to make hard decisions.
I hope that by the end of this post, you’ll have helpful tools and strategies to make decision-making even just a little bit easier for you!
1. Inaction is a choice.
The first thing I want you to remember is that not making a decision is a decision in and of itself.
I’m going to repeat that because it’s just SO important…
Not making a decision IS a decision.
When coaching my clients, I often call this being stuck in the “I don’t know”.
It’s an awful place to be - knowing that you need to make a decision but staying stuck not doing anything about it. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining.
But here’s the truth: being stuck in this place is a choice, and you can choose to get out of it too.
It starts with getting brutally honest with yourself.
If you’re reading this and starting to realize that you HAVE been avoiding making a decision, it’s time to start asking the big questions so you can move forward. Stick around until the end of the post to learn the exact questions you should be asking yourself to start making better decisions.
2. Give yourself a decision deadline.
The second tip I give my clients is to give themselves a decision deadline.
How long are you going to allow yourself to stay in I don’t know land? Usually, I recommend a maximum of 90 days to make a big decision.
Most of the time, what I find happens with clients who join my program wanting support making a big decision, is we set a deadline to make the choice - say either by halfway through the program, the end of the first month, or even by the end of the program. By taking that pressure off and giving themselves a certain amount of time to make the decision, they get the ball rolling with some clarity.
Rarely, clients don’t decide in time, and usually, they make it well before the deadline!
3. Ditch the drama.
Often, what makes certain decisions hard isn’t the decision itself but the layer of drama we add to them.
When we’re confronted with a decision, whether your lease is ending and you need to be out of your apartment by a certain date, or circumstances change at your work and you’ll be out of a job or whatever the case may be, we start to panic.
We have this idea in our heads that the decision is going to be challenging and difficult.
Times of change can already be emotionally draining, but it’s when we put even more weight on each decision we have to make that they become almost unbearable.
We think, “Oh god, this decision is going to change everything. It’s going to alter the entire trajectory of my life!”.
If that’s you - take a breather.
Try to take some weight and pressure off your decisions. Even if you don’t feel exactly *chill* about it, channel your inner chill girl. Think easy breezy Covergirl.
Whatever happens, a decision will be made. Life will go on. Release yourself from the drama.
4. Drop the label “I am indecisive”.
If you label yourself as somebody who's indecisive and terrible at making decisions, then guess what?
You're going to be bad at making decisions!
Shocking, I know.
When you repeat these labels to yourself, you’re CHOOSING to believe that you don’t have the power to decide something.
I always call my clients out when they tell me this. After all, they DECIDED to invest in my coaching program! If you find yourself thinking this way, remind yourself of all of the times you DID manage to decide for yourself.
5. Don’t wait for your circumstances to change.
One of the big reasons so many people stay stuck in I don’t know land is because they WAIT for their circumstances to change.
We do this when we want to avoid having to take responsibility for our decisions. So rather than taking action, we sit around, waiting for something to happen. We want the decision to be made FOR us.
I see this so often in the realm of careers. Maybe you want to quit your job, but you tell yourself things like “It’s not the right time!”, “I should stay because the money’s good!” or “It’s not that bad...I should just be grateful I have a job, right?”. And so because of this, you tell yourself, I’ll just stay here until something happens.
Until what happens exactly isn’t always clear.
Until someone magically turns up and offers you a new job?
Until you get fired?
Until your company mysteriously goes under one day and you’re released?
While YES, I am a big believer in the universe and things happening for a reason, we can’t sit in inaction waiting for a sign or waiting for life to simply drive us to where we need to go.
There's a quote that says, if you're waiting for a sign, this is it. I take that to mean that if you're waiting for a sign to come and tell you what to do, it’s a sign that YOU need to get out of your chair and make the decision yourself!
6. There’s no right answer.
If you’re struggling with having to make hard decisions, one key thing to remember is this:
No one decision is inherently right or wrong, bad or good.
Not everyone will agree with this, but I wholeheartedly believe it!
When we put pressure on ourselves thinking that there's a “right” decision, it becomes SO much more stressful to make that decision.
We make the decision-making process harder than it needs to be because we imagine that somewhere hidden away in a secret box, is the RIGHT answer on a piece of paper.
So we start to feel like we’re desperately searching for that key to open the box and get that right answer.
Luckily, the box doesn’t exist. We made it all up!
But SO many of us operate in this way, and it ends up limiting us so much.
If you know that you do this too, remember: every decision is just a next step in your life, and it's not written anywhere that that decision is going to be the right thing or the wrong thing.
You’ve just got to move forward.
7. Don’t get caught up in worst-case scenarios.
Ever find yourself wondering about every single thing that could go wrong by making a certain decision?
You’re not alone.
As humans, our brains are wired to love comfort and predictability.
We rely on past evidence to make present-day decisions. That's why, when you decide to do something NEW, your mind will automatically go to all the times in the past where you failed, things went wrong, or something happened that you didn't expect.
In essence, you try and make a decision based on a past version of yourself.
This is dangerous because the only way that you can GROW as a person is to make a decision based on your future self.
In other words, don’t make decisions based on who you WERE, make decisions based on who you WANT to be.
Our brains automatically start to go to the worst-case scenarios.
This is completely normal, but it ISN’T going to protect you.
Instead of making decisions based on “what if everything goes wrong?”, make decisions based on “what if everything actually went right?”
Ask yourself these 2 questions when you need to make hard decisions:
1. Am I making this decision out of fear, or out of love?
When we make decisions out of fear, we’re not living an aligned life. We’re concerned more with what others want and with what we “should” do, rather than what feels true for us.
2. Do I like the reasons I’m making this decision?
Be honest with yourself - do you like your reasons WHY you’re making this decision? Would you stand up on stage and proudly announce them to an auditorium full of people? If not, you might want to reconsider.
1. Write it all out One of the best ways to make hard decisions is to get your thoughts OUT of your head and onto paper. Journaling is a powerful practice to gain clarity around what you truly want. Journal on the questions above, the pros and cons, and everything that’s on your mind.
The FREE Turning 30 Journaling Guide is a great way to get started! Download it here.
2. Give yourself a decision deadline Give yourself a deadline in the future for when you have to make your choice. Allow yourself this time between now and the decision deadline to research, collect data, explore and come up with different options.
3. Speak to friends and family Allow yourself to speak to your friends and family, but remember, this is FOR YOU. This about you getting clarity on your decision, NOT getting others to decide for you. Other people will always have their opinions about what you *should* do, but take them with a grain of salt. Only you know what’s best for you.
4. Get professional help
There is truly nothing like investing in support to help you through a big life change or decision. By working with a professional, like a coach or therapist, you'll get guidance to help you find the answer within yourself. I provide all of my clients with a mirror reflection of their minds that enables them to make decisions. It gives them clarity, understanding, and a safe, non-judgmental space to truly understand what's going on underneath the surface.
Want to experience the support of coaching to help you through your next life transition?