Making decisions is never easy. Whether it is something as small as what shirt to wear that day or something much bigger like whether to take the new job offer or stay with your existing company. In the movies when a big decision comes the answer is always pretty obvious – they end up choosing the option that makes them happier. If that is the advice you need then here it is – always choose the option that makes you happier in the long term. Of course, life is rarely that simple. If we knew which option would actually make us happier we wouldn’t struggle with the decision at all. Read on for some tips on how to make decisions easier.
Flip a coin
If you are really stuck between two options and can’t see either one as better then simply flip a coin. If it lands on heads choose option A. If it lands on tails choose option B. This coin process will work once you have really thought about every option. The trick here though is to see how you feel after the coin flip. If the coin lands on heads and you choose to stick with your job and for the rest of the day you feel terrible, then you know you should take the job offer. Ignore the coin and take the job offer. If you feel fantastic then you know you made the right decision. This coin trick is allowing you to get past the over-analytical part of your brain and simply see what your gut wants to do. If both options really are equal after thorough analysis – always follow your gut.
Make a list
Whenever I have a problem that I can’t get my head around I grab my pen and paper (or Excel) and start to make a list. I list all the pros and all the cons of each option I am looking at. However, the winner is not the option that simply has the most pros vs the least cons. That would be too simple. You will notice when you make a pros/cons list that not all things listed are equal. If the new job comes with a $10,000 salary decrease but you get to wear casual clothing on a Friday this is not an equal pro and con. You need to write this list down and then focus on the things that matter. If you find this difficult to do, take that list to a spreadsheet and actually apply a weighting from 1 to 5 to each thing listed. A salary decrease will have a meaningful impact on your life so it gets a 5. Casual Fridays are nice but worthless, it gets a one. Now add up your list (total score of pros minus total scores of cons for each option) and see which option really comes out on top.
Give yourself advice
Have you ever noticed that when your friend has a problem you seem to have all the answers but when you have the problem you are at a loss? Try pretending that the problem is not yours but one of your friends. Give them the advice that you need and then listen to it. This does require some mental gymnastics but if you can master this approach you will really see the benefit. It will allow you to remove the short term emotions from the problem and see the bigger picture.
If all else fails and you still can’t decide what to do then just say no. A great friend once told me if faced with a decision to change or do something different if your gut isn’t telling you to say “Hell yes” then just say no. Always go with the “Hell Yes” options in life but leave the barely yes options behind. This won’t steer you far wrong.