“The first secret of getting what you want is knowing what you want.” – Arthur D. Hlavaty
How do you find the right path when there are so many options available?
According to a study referenced on the Huffington Post, the average citizen in the UK makes over 770,000 decisions in their lifetime and regrets over 143,000.
From debating whether or not you should have another cup of coffee, to determining if you should change career paths, decisions come in various degrees of importance and magnitude.
While you may have minor regrets ordering a coffee instead of saving the extra money, it’s fair to say that it’s not the kind of choice that will have immediate or drastic consequences.
On the other hand, staying on a career path or in a relationship that isn’t right for you will lead to bitterness, dissatisfaction, and negativity.
Just because we have the cognitive ability to make thousands of decisions each day doesn’t mean we’re effective or equipped to make choices that will lead to a more fulfilling life. We don’t always know what we want or what will lead to happiness.
Sometimes it’s a matter of trial-and-error and we just have to do our best, but for the sake of having a little guidance, here are three suggestions to help you make decisions when you’re uncertain.
1. Explore your options
When we have a decision making dilemma, and are caught between a few options, it can leave us stuck and confused.
In these situations it’s important to make time to evaluate the situation and understand the most relevant options.
Reflect on the different options and use a decision making model to help narrow down different features and what’s most important to you.
Write down all of your options and begin to review and analyze them based on outcomes, risks, and opportunities. Keep a list of each options pros and cons, and consider how they fit compared to your values and objectives.
Another useful method is to question your interests, aptitudes, and motivation. You can test those effectively with the Birkman test, which is designed to offer scalable and actionable solutions for individuals and companies in need of guidance.
It’s a successful method developed by a psychologist to grow your talent and move in the right direction.
2. Don’t fear tough decisions
“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn
Not all decisions are easy, and the easy choices are unlikely the reason you’re reading this post.
Tough decisions, however, can cause more distress and anxiety, but are probably much more important in terms of creating a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Tough decisions are difficult because they bring a sacrifice and uncertainty, such as walking away from a relationship or a job opportunity that doesn’t align with your values.
A practical approach is to talk it over with a confidant who understands your background and the situation. They could help you figure out another more suitable option, or perhaps they can confirm and bring reassurance to what you already know.
Even though tough decisions take more time and forethought, we can’t postpone them or procrastinate forever. Don’t be a spectator of your life.
If you want to change things and create a better reality, you need to make tough choices, and be conscious and active in doing so.
3. Mistakes are a directional compass
“You will only fail to learn if you do not learn from failing.” – Stella Adler
Experience is one of the best teachers, and this includes our mistakes, failures, and missteps.
Mistakes are a part of making progress as you learn, grow, and advance in life. It’s okay to get things wrong, and just because you stumble along the way doesn’t mean that you’re headed in the wrong direction.
Mistakes are a often a necessary part of change and becoming a wiser person.
In a lifetime, people change careers 5 to 7 times. Each career change brings them a little closer the path they want to take.
With each unsuccessful attempt, we learn something new about ourselves and adjust our direction accordingly.
Perhaps, you’ve realized that the path you’ve chosen doesn’t match your values, or tends to leave you feeling drained, unaccomplished, and unfulfilled.
This is often when people start to realize that something needs to change, but they may not know what it is.
Don’t be alarmed if you’re in this situation. Instead allow yourself the time to look inward, reflect on your options, and be open to bigger and more bold possibilities.
Be compassionate with the ups and downs of your journey, and realize that whatever path you take, you can learn and gain more clarity.
Life is constantly offering opportunities for self-exploration and greater self-awareness.
As we understand ourselves more, and begin to accept and forgive ourselves, we can begin to make empowered decisions that get us closer to materializing our dreams.