When working to make a decision in life, especially if it is something important, it is helpful to have a few things in mind to reflect on as you get started. The following tips will help you think through your options and take care of yourself along the way.

Tip 1. Try to relax. Try not to let the pressure or stress of the decision overwhelm you. It is very easy to feel anxious when you are facing a choice in front of you that is important. You might tend to rush through it or avoid the decision because it can take up a lot of mental energy. If you are feeling worried about your decision, try to reduce your stress so that you can think clearly. Take a moment and do something relaxing such as take a walk, exercise or do something fun.

Tip 2. Take your time. If it is possible, give yourself some time to make the decision. It can be difficult to make a decision (especially if it is an important one) under pressure. When you are feeling pressure, sometimes your best ideas don’t come to the surface right away, or you might tend to choose an option that is not your best one. Give yourself time to be able to think about a problem for a while. Let yourself process your thoughts and think through all of your options so that you can get to a point where you feel great about the path forward that you choose.

Tip 3. Weigh the positives and negatives. Think through all the different angles of your decision. What is positive about it? What is negative about it? Make a list of the pros and cons and how important they are for you. Especially when we are faced with a very big decision, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. Compare the things that are good about your options, and the things that will likely be difficult. Think through them – sometimes the cons aren’t nearly as bad as we imagine them to be, or the pros might make your preferences more obvious.

Tip 4. Consider what matters most. Think about your long-term goals and your core values. Both of these things help serve as a compass or guide for being true to yourself and what matters to you in life. When you think about your decision in consideration of what is most important to you, your preferred option might become clearer. It is also more likely that that you will feel satisfied and happy with the choice that you make.

Tip 5. Write down potential consequences. Usually, different decisions will result in different outcomes. Sometimes not all of these outcomes are obvious. When considering each option that you could choose in your decision, take time to think through the consequences of this decision and how these results line up with what you would like to see for your life.

Tip 6. Talk about it with someone that you trust. When making an important decision, it can be helpful to get another person’s perspective on your issue, particularly if they’ve faced a similar decision in their own life. If you decide to speak with someone, make sure that they are really listening to what you are saying and helping you think through what is best for you, and not trying to convince you to take a course of action that they would prefer for you take.

Tip 7. Write it down. As you think through your decision, it might be helpful to keep a log of your thoughts or feelings about it over time. This can also help you focus your thoughts, clearly pinpoint your emotions and observe what you are thinking by seeing it written down. Writing it down can also help you get it ‘out of your mind’ and some people believes that this gives them a sense of relief so that their thoughts and feelings aren’t bottled up.

Tip 8. Plan your course of action. Think through the tasks that you would need to accomplish in a path forward based on the options that are looking at. If your decision affects other people, consider how they might react and think through how you can communicate with them. If you believe that your decision will likely upset another person, plan what you will do to ensure that you are able to communicate clearly – this can include writing your talking points down, or outlining your rationale and logic.

When you were in school, there was often a ‘right answer’ to many of the problems that you had to solve. In life, there are usually a list of options that you can take, and sometimes there is not a ‘perfect’ decision. Different decisions will result in different outcomes for you. Making a decision is a bold course of action, and learning will take place along the way as you move forward in life. The lessons that you have learned from all of your decisions will help to guide you as you make more and more decisions over time. Keeping your heart and personal values in mind when you make choices will help you stay true to who you are and what you want for your life.

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