Tired of taking decisions or of feeling like all the decisions you’ll take, will have a tremendous impact on your future? It’s the way we look at decision taking that makes you feel anxious. We’re going to change that today – I trust you. Just keep on reading my top five tips to help you make important life decisions.
Eliminate your inner fear
When faced with an important life decision, you might be feeling fear. It’s normal. When the brain shifts between what it knows (the common known – your life as it is now) and the future, you might experience scary thoughts. You might even ask yourself ‘what happens if…?’ without expecting or having a rational answer. That’s just your inner fear breaking through. It’s very important that you acknowledge that and be aware that you’re so much more than a person being paralysed in fear.
I would suggest to come up with a list of your best resilient qualities by answering the following questions:
- When was I last resilient?
- How did I show strength while in a similar situation?
- What are my best qualities?
- Do I consider myself powerful?
Ask yourself the right questions
When you ask yourself the right questions, you get the best answers, RIGHT?
So, why not do just that? Start by asking yourself a set of right questions in relation to the specific decision you are about to take. Scrap the ‘what happens if…’ BS and focus on the right things. You’ll notice how confident you’ll soon become.
I’m going to include some examples below, some might apply to your case, but some might not:
- What percentage of the decision is an absolute yes?
- What holds me back? (we know it’s fear, so think about the practical things that might hold you back)
- How will this decision contribute to the lifestyle I want to achieve?
- Would I break away from my comfort zone if I take this decision today?
- Will my intangible assets (such as skills) improve if I take the decision?
- Will I become more independent?
- What is the outcome I’m after?
The Fear Setting Excercise
This exercise belongs to the lifestyle guru Tim Ferris and if you’ve read my new e-book ‘Create a Life You Love’, I’m sure you’re now the master of this exercise. It will teach you how to define your fears, instead of your goals.
The premeditatio malorum or pre-meditation of evils is a Stoic concept which aims towards preventing the bad in your head from happening in real life. As Stoic Seneca noted ‘It’s not because things are difficult THAT we dare not to venture, but we dare not to venture that they are difficult’. In essence, fear is your biggest enemy. The one thing that will set you back when you want to finally do it. Fear is responsible for not going for that job you were unqualified for, for you not following drama school, for you not learning how to code and many others. Fear is just what’s happening inside our heads when we’re not ready to make ten million dollars a year or when we’re put in front of something so big that will change our lives.
How do you go about eliminating fear and discovering the strength within you to take action? It’s really straightforward but after you identify what you’re scared of you have to make a priority list. You’ll notice that you’ll be scared of the impacts of your actions; for instance, having to go to learn code after work three times a week will mean that your relationships can suffer. You won’t be saying “Yes!” easily when your friend / partner want to hang out, because being busy for three times a week, means that you need to run your errands during the days you have left. Or you won’t be able to look after your brother’s kid after work, because you’re actually doing something for yourself. Take action now and create a life you love!
It will help you define your fears and come up with solutions. Grab a pen and create your three columns:
- Define – get detailed about the worst things that can happen if you’re going to take that decision (between 10 and 20 actions)
- Prevent – answer what you could do to prevent each of the worst things from happening
- Repair – list down ways of repairing the potential damage
After you identify these, ask yourself what may the benefits of an attempt or partial success be? Imagine how your life would look like. Write them down.
The last step is to assess your cost of inaction. What can happen in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years if you don’t take action? You can look at it from an emotional, physical, financial perspective. Note these down as well.
At the end of this exercise, you’ll be able to have a clear view of what scares you out and how you can prevent the bad things from happening, even for a little.
Go with the flow
Accept that some things need to happen in a certain way and it’s okay. Start to go with the flow and you’ll feel less pressure to come up with the ‘right’ decision.
In fact, all decisions you will take will be right because they will lead you to a certain place in your life, leading you to other opportunities. Just don’t forget to practice self-care while on your journey.
Don’t regret your choices
Another important piece of advice that I can give to you is not to regret the decision you’ve made, constantly wondering what would have happened if you went the other way?
I’ve constantly came across this when speaking to different people. I’ve heard so many times statements such as ‘I shouldn’t have chosen to get into Med school, working in advertising would have been a much better choice for me’ or ‘Ah if only I’ve chosen to go for that interview yesterday, I’m sure I’d have gotten something out of it, instead of going to that other meeting which proved to be a waste of time.’
Sometimes you might feel so disappointed because you get stuck in the feeling of regret. I’m sure the doctor guy will come to discover that Med school was actually a good choice after graduation or even if not, the choice is his to go study / work in another industry. Getting glued to feeling sorry for yourself and not doing anything about it will kill all your dreams and impact your life in a negative way. Not happy with the outcomes? Change your course, but remember you must have learnt something new along the way. No decision is bad, as long as you know how to influence it and adapt it to your latest needs.
These were my five tips to help you make important life decisions. I hope you’ve found these useful and as always if you have any specific questions, let me know in the comment section below.
Until next time,