A Beginner’s Guide to Making Decisions

By: Lily

Just stop overthinking it. Now, I know some of you are ready to click off. But let me tell you, I’m one of the biggest overthinkers I know. And for a long long time, it was very hard for me to make any decisions. And the big ones I’m still not an expert at making. But if you’re still struggling to make the small decisions, you don’t have to. Let me let you in on a little secret, the trick to making those small decisions, is not to just stop overthinking, it’s to stop thinking all together.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Recognise if this is an important decision

The first step to making a decision is to recognise if it’s even important. Chances are, deciding whether to use your blue or green pen in class, isn’t a big deal. Now, deciding what college to go to is a different story. There is one question you need to ask yourself to productively assess if this is an important decision.

First, how will this decision affect me? Normally if it’s a super small decision, you can stop here. Picking the green pen over the blue pen probably won’t affect you. Chances are your answer will be something along the lines of “it won’t” or something like “it’ll affect the color I use next week, or the color I have to use for this class”.

All of those responses have something of a problem. They’re really not a big deal. You have other pens you can use and this decision doesn’t affect important aspects of your life. So just set on down and move on. Stop thinking about it and just choose. It’s really that simple. 

Now choosing which college to go to is a completely different decision. Your answer to this question will probably be something like, “it will affect where I live”, “it will decide how much money I spend”, “it will affect my ability to get a job in the future”. Big things, all of them, affecting the future for many years. 

If it affects your future or a huge part of your life. You then can tell it’s a big decision and can give it more though and make your decision using other tips down below. 

This can also be done by making things like a pros and cons list. If there are a lot of pros and cons that vary greatly, it’s probably a more important decision than something that has a few pros and cons that are basically the same on each side. 

Listen to your gut

Deep down, you probably know what’s best for you and what you want to do. But sometimes there are a lot of factors that make it hard to make a decision. 

If it’s a smaller unimportant decision like the pen scenario mentioned above, listening to your gut can be really easy. It’s not a big deal so just close your eyes and make a decision, you’ll probably be guided to the answer you really wanted anyways, and it doesn’t have to be a long process.

A bigger decision can work the same way. If you’re struggling with making a decision it may be easier to figure out your wants by asking what’s important to you. Let’s reference the college scenario from above. You’ve already completely step one and figured out this was important. Now ask yourself which of the ways it will affect your life is more important to you. For example, let’s say you can’t decide whether to stay in state or out of state because in state is closer to home but, out of state gives you future job opportunities you can’t get from this school. 

You can then ask yourself which is more important to you. How much do you want this opportunity, and how much do you want to stay at home. Deciding which of these is more important to you can then lead you to the answer that will make you the happiest. 

Ask for advice

Asking for advice from those with your best interests at heart can be a great way to get better insight on a decision. They may bring up things that you didn’t even think of and give you reliable advice you couldn’t get from yourself.

However be careful with this. Don’t let others completely influence your opinion, or you may end up unhappy. Also always make sure you’re asking for advice from someone with your best interests at heart. Know how you trust and who really loves you. Don’t ask people who will be too greatly affected and may have selfish opinions.

Asking for advice can also help you figure out what you really want. You may be getting one answer and wishing it was another. If this is happening, it’s a good sign that you already know the right answer. 

Flip a Coin

This is similar to what I was talking about in the last section. Flipping a coin can do two things for you. It can help you make an unimportant decision, or a big one by showing you what you really want.

Flipping a coin is a fast way to stop thinking about an unimportant decision and just make it. Flip it, go with it, your good. 

For a bigger decision flipping a coin shouldn’t be so much the ultimate decider but a good way to figure out what you want. Chances are deep down you have already made the decision but something is holding you back. If you flip a coin and are happy with the outcome go with it. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, that’s a sign you already know the right answer and you know to comfortably choose the other option. 

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