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Life Choices: Five Tips to Help You Make Tough Decisions

Sometimes we come to a fork in the road that calls for us to make difficult or drastic decisions. Our goals change, and we have varied priorities in different phases of our lives.

These decisions can impact all areas of our lives, including the lives of those around us. They aren’t things like what to name the dog or which shower curtain to buy; rather, these are points in time where we have to discern opportunity from risk. Examples include decisions about a career change, moving, buying or selling a house, ending or beginning a relationship, placing loved ones in a full-time care facility, adopting a child, retirement, and many more. Just pondering those examples can bring thoughts of tension and confusion which is why these life choices demand careful consideration. Here are five suggestions to help you make tough decisions:

Look beyond the moment

A sure sign of immaturity is to make choices with only the present moment in mind. Tough decisions require looking not only at an immediate gain from a particular choice but also its potential long-term benefits.

Sometimes we have to pay a small price in the short term, but the long-term gains could far outweigh the immediate sacrifices. Imagine a child with a fist full of allowance money who opts to save their money to purchase a bike, as opposed to buying a treat whenever the urge strikes. The same principle applies to adults managing the temptations of daily desires versus achieving long-term goals. The moment will pass, but will you still be confident in your choice next week or next year?

Evaluate a “head choice” versus a “heart  choice”

A “head choice” is a decision that makes sense on paper, while a “heart choice” is one that speaks to your soul and meets a need or longing and envelopes your passion and emotion.

Often, these choices are made without careful consideration because they feel good at the time and bring an emotional high, albeit short-lived. A bad relationship mistake can be made overnight because you only considered the short-term benefits. Yet, someone who chooses a spouse from the “head choice” perspective alone aims to check off certain traits and ideals from a list and overlooks the importance of an emotional or spiritual bond. The best decisions often have both emotional rewards and make rational sense as well.

Consider if you could you survive if disappointed

Once you decide which path to take and you pursue it with all your might, what if you realize you made a mistake? Can you survive even if you feel like you failed?

It is important to weigh the cost of failure – not just the financial cost, but the emotional devastation and the time and energy lost. While some disappointment comes with many decisions we make, it is important to assess our resilience and coping skills when things don’t work out the way we had hoped. If you choose a path that would devastate you if its outcome were unsuccessful, it is probably not a wise choice. Think through the “what if” questions before taking the plunge forward.

Respect the effect and influence of others

Take into account how your decision will affect those around you, particularly family members or close friends or associates who could be impacted.

A single person typically has more flexibility to make a major life change, whereas a family needs to factor in other risks (or rewards) and consider the household impact. For example, a parent who is debating accepting a job that requires moving to another state should also think of the challenges that relocation may bring for their spouse and children, as they would have to uproot and depart their current lifestyle and activities. Some major life choices can be awesome opportunities and bring much reward and blessings – but only in the context of the timing of the choice.

Go with what you know

While we can never have all the answers surrounding our options, we can do some serious research into picking the best option.

Decisions should not be made solely on hopes, wishes, dreams, and potential, but also on facts that can support the choice, if possible. Are you financially stable enough to recover if you chose one decision over another? Is there evidence that others have gained much from making a similar choice? And, will you be able to look back on the decision with confidence that you made the best decision with the information you had?

Sometimes life calls for tough choices that really make us think and may even cause feelings of stress and anxiety. If the stress of making a big decision is weighing on you and you feel that you could benefit from additional support, Centerstone can help. To learn more, call us at 877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page.

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