Sara is in a dilemma. A high-performer at work, she is poised to receive a promotion and be part of a highly sought-after project. With it comes the excitement of venturing into unchartered territory and the opportunity to make a mark in her industry. What’s holding her back? Her application for higher studies has been accepted by a prestigious foreign university. That’s a chance to study further, meet an interesting and diverse peer group, and experience life in a new city. What should she choose? She has been oscillating between the options.
Many of us might relate to Sara’s situation. We’ve all been at those crossroads, faced with options that seem equally appealing or worthy. The decision we make could alter the course of our lives. Such times are confusing, even stressful, as we tend to go back and forth between the options.
While it’s difficult to stem the tide of emotions that come with such a situation, it’s possible to regulate them. Instead of focusing on making the ‘right’ decision, here’s what you can keep in mind while thinking through the possibilities:
- Make a priority list
Our priorities change with each phase of our life. Reminding yourself of your current set of priorities can help take decisions that are aligned with them. While all your choices might come with their own set of benefits and downfalls, see which one serves your current priorities and the vision for your future. Remember, short-sightedness and instant gratification could trick you into making sub-optimal decisions.
- Consume the right information
Most of us like to take well-informed decisions. However, in the age of information overload, spotting and consuming the right or accurate information is a challenge. The amount of data we can look up is endless and sometimes our research could leave us with more confusion than clarity. Know what you’re looking for to avoid data overwhelm. Identify the subtopics that you want to know more about before starting your research. Educate yourself about those specifics to prevent information clutter that could cloud your thinking.
This is the oldest piece of advice – decide when you’re calm. But a dominant emotion while choosing between options is the fear of making the wrong choice. Decisions taken in this frame of mind could be impulsive. What’s worse, deciding things only to end the anxiety of an uncertain future or out of anger or over-excitement could lead to regrettable choices. Talk to a loved one, go for a jog, or simply distance yourself from engaging with those thoughts till you’re in a calmer frame of mind before making a decision.
- Analyze your pattern of choices
Decision-making is very subjective; each of us has our own way of tackling situations. Evaluating and identifying your own decision taking patterns will help you avoid old mistakes. Think of your past decisions that you regret or could have taken differently. Understand if there’s a certain trend and avoid repeating it. After all, there is no better teacher than your own life and its experiences.
Like Roald Dahl said, “You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.” Except for the rare decisions that are ‘life or death’ in nature, most decisions can be undone. We hope finding solace in that reduces the stress that comes with decision-making and eases the process for you.