How to Make a Difficult Decision When You’re Stuck at a Crossroads

There are some decisions that come easily to us. When that occurs and we have such clarity of mind, we can choose our desired path with confidence. We’re sure-footed and rarely look if ever, to consider whether or not we made the right choice.

Yet, there are other decisions that aren’t so easy to make. We ponder them for days and days, going over each in our minds. We talk about the options incessantly with our friends and family members to the point of exhaustion. Then, when we finally do come to a conclusion and make that choice, we second-guess it endlessly, considering what the alternative outcome would have been like.

For much of my life, I’ve made decisions much in the manner of the latter. It doesn’t matter if I’m picking out what I want to eat from a menu or deciding if we should sell our house and move somewhere different, I approach each choice with the same sense of uncertainty and dread. It’s a trait I get honest from my own mother, and I think it simply speaks to our desire to get it “right.” But who can eve get it right? While that answer may elude us, there are a few ways we can feel more confident in our decision-making skills moving forward. The next time you find yourself stuck at a crossroads, try these simple tips:

1. Take yourself out of the equation.

Chances are, your emotions are getting in the way of your clear-headedness, making the decision that much more difficult to make. For instance, if you’re contemplating a move, you’re thinking of all the memories you’ve made in your current house, stressing over finances, and more.

To make it a little easier, pretend like it’s not you going through the situation, but rather a friend. Advise him or her on which path seems like the better option. Looking at your decision objectively in this way can help you remove any lingering self-doubt.

2. Dial down the data points.

Thanks to all the Big Data exchanged and available via the internet, the answers to almost every question you could possibly think to ask are on the internet. That’s both a blessing and a curse, as it can be difficult to discern where to turn and which sources are credible. For instance, if you’re stuck at a crossroads and unsure whether your baby’s temperature is high enough to warrant a trip to the doctor, you can hop online and read 1.2 million parenting forums about that subject, with each person weighing in with his or her opinion or personal anecdote.

Rather than stay up all night reading that information (and wasting precious time getting your loved one the help he or she needs), it’s best to dial it back a little and consult a professional instead. The same goes for any major decision you’re facing. You wouldn’t trust the opinion of a stranger online when dealing with a legal matter, would you? No, you’d turn to a professional like Stone Law Firm to consult you on which way to go. Seek out a reputable source immediately whenever possible and resist the urge to read or talk everything into the ground.

3. Map out the big picture.

Keeping all of your thoughts and opinions swirling around inside your head can leave you muddle-minded and totally lost. To reverse this effect, try writing down your thoughts and organizing them into manageable chunks. The best way to do so? A good, old-fashioned spreadsheet. Using columns and rows, chart your decision based on pros, cons, opinions, data, rankings, and other considerations. Then, fill in each cell to the best of your ability.

When you’re done, you should have a bird’s eye overview of your issue at hand, with enough information to help you choose a successful course of action. Getting your ideas down on paper or in this case, onto a spreadsheet, can help you make sense of them all.

This is a short list, but if you’re in the middle of a decision, it’s best we keep it brief anyway. Remember to approach your issue as objectively as possible, stay away from the deluge of data available at the push of a button or the swipe of a screen, and get all of your thoughts out on paper to truly understand what you’re working with. Then, make your next move and feel good about it.