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6 Strategies on Making Hard Decisions

Updated: Jun 12, 2019

We make thousands of decisions every day, but the hard ones often represent major changes our lives, whether it’s a decision about staying or leaving a relationship, changing jobs, speaking out or staying quiet, stepping into your power or continuing to give it away because it’s safe, buying a house or renting, or perhaps moving to a new city.

If you have a hard decision to make, perhaps one of these strategies can help you find your way:

1. Know where you are going.What is the ultimate goal and how does this decision serve it? Perhaps this decision is hard simply because you are on a path, but ultimately don’t know where you’re headed. Think of it as a GPS, if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, you will continue to aimlessly travel down a road without a destination. Paint a VERY clear picture of your destination in your mind. Where is it, how do you feel, what are you wearing, what are you doing, who are you with, what do you see, hear, smell, taste? Which option will get you closer to your goal?

2. Play the Pain-Gain Game. The Pain-Gain Game is essentially a pro and con list on steroids and designed to bring out a deeper level of understanding around the pain and gains of staying where you are or making the decision.

  • Step 1: Draw out a table with 4 quadrants, labeling the rows and columns as demonstrated in the illustration below.

  • Step 2: In Quadrant I, write out all aspects, emotions, thoughts, and feelings around the pain of staying where you are (or not making a decision)

  • Step 3: Skip over to Quadrant IV and write out all aspects of the gain associated with changing.

  • Step 4: Move back to Quadrant II and write out all aspects of the gain associated with remaining the same.

  • Step 5: Finish in Quadrant III and think about the pains associated with changing.

The key with this exercise is to get specific with the details of each scenario—and be honest with yourself! Place a strong emphasis on the fears associated with each quadrant. By doing this, you may get a deeper understanding of what’s keeping you from changing, or perhaps which values you place at a higher level during this specific challenge. 3. Step into and “try on” each option.Literally. Find a space in your room, house, yard, or wherever you are and “try on” the outcome of each quadrant. Designate a specific area for Quadrant I. Pay attention to how you feel. What emotions, feelings, or thoughts come up for you as you embody the outcome of this path? Now, walk to a new, different space and envision it as the result of Quadrant II (do this with a new space for each quadrant). How does that path feel? Feel the energy in each space and soak it up. Finally, return to the physical space designated for Quadrant I. How does it feel after experiencing Quadrant II, III, and IV? What’s different? Does it feel better or worse? Keep alternating between the energies you have created in each of these spots until you find the one that feels best.

4. Seek out guidance from a third-party.What’s curious is that we inherently know, somewhere deep down inside that it’s ultimately our own decision and that we already know the answer—no matter how difficult it may be—and yet we still turn to our friends, family, coaches, mentors, or advisors to help us rationalize or find the “right” answer. The reason we do this is because our judgment is clouded with emotion. Find someone you can talk to who is completely neutral and is not emotionally invested or attached to the outcome.

5. Know and trust that you will make the decision that serves your highest purpose. Take the pressure off yourself to make the “right” decision. First off, recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong” decision. There is only THE decision. Regardless the outcome, THE decision will either teach you something you needed to learn, or take you one step closer to the goal you have been seeking.

6. Sleep on it. It may seem simple and common, but it works. If you need to, try repeating to yourself, "I will make the decision that serves my highest purpose." for 5-10 minutes just before bed and then don't try to make a decision, just allow it to marinate and see what comes to you in the morning.

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The bottom line is that your upcoming decision is hard because it’s likely important. Sometimes the decision you know is right, may not feel the best right now, and sometimes we make decisions that feel good in the short term, but may not serve as as well as we had hoped in the long term. Either way, congratulate yourself for making A decision, because “right” or “”wrong, you took action to move forward.

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