The decisions you make, and don’t make, make you. Think about it. Did you make the call or make the excuse? Stay or leave? Stand up for your values or act timid? Play victim or take control? Settle for mediocrity or commit to higher standards and achieving meaningful success?
Let’s face it, you are where you are in life because of the decisions you have made leading up to this point. And with every new life decision you weigh, no matter how seemingly trivial, your destiny hangs in the balance.
Lucky for us humans, we’ve been gifted the most high-powered decision-making tool this planet has ever seen, a conscious mind. Still, we must be sure to use it appropriately if we wish to make better decisions and improve the quality of our lives.
Here are 4 handy decision-making tips to make your life better:
1. Trust your own mind
Before all else, you must gain confidence in your ability to think mindfully. When you distrust your own mind, you are mentally passive, thus not engaging the full capacity of your greatest resource.
In other words, a conviction to trusting your own mind inspires consciousness. And consciousness is the highest manifestation of human life. Without it, we make decisions in the dark—blind to the many key factors, both internal and external, required for an optimal decision.
To trust your own mind is to acknowledge other people and factors in the environment, but not let them do your thinking for you! Make your decisions consciously, with confidence that whatever you decide, in the end you will make the best of it.
“To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals—to the best of our ability, whatever that ability may be—and to behave in accordance with that which we see and know.” – Nathaniel Branden
2. Don’t ask how, ask why
If you’re like most people, you make your life decisions backwards. First, you brainstorm how each choice could be carried out, lean toward what appears to be more feasible, and then invent reasons why that choice is the best solution.
However, when making important decisions, the brain relies on something called fluency heuristics—it assigns higher value to an idea it can process faster. This means that if we always begin by asking how, we always end up choosing the option that requires the least effort, which often results in inaction.
For example, when deciding if you should take a chance and pursue a true desire, or remain complacent in a place you truly hate, your brain will convince you the latter as the better option because it’s “safer” and “more comfortable”—when in reality, nothing can be further from the truth.
Ask yourself why each choice should be implemented rather than how it might be implemented. Be biased toward the choice that may bring you closer to your aspirations, rather than what appears to have the most straightforward course.
Our why is the most powerful motivator we have to initiate purposeful action. And only after we’ve determined our why, can we truly engage our creativity and come up with an effective plan of action.
3. Put your values to work
Want to know the secret to bypassing the internal tortures that comes with making tough life decisions? Simply know what’s most important to you. Or better yet, know what’s most important to you achieving your destiny. And leverage it!
Once you realize your personal values, set them as your standard operating query. Let them be your personal compass guiding every life decision you need to make. Always opt for the choice that stands up for your values. This can make delicate decision-making pure and simple. If a choice conflicts with your order of values, don’t choose it. It doesn’t get easier than that.
As a matter of fact, this is precisely how one shapes his or her character, builds self-esteem, and instills a sense of certainty and inner peace indecisiveness could never produce.
“The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things.” – Stephen Covey
4. Stop asking questions
The wisdom you uncover by asking yourself empowering questions during moments of indecisiveness is evident. Quality questions are arguably the most effective means we have for evaluating a life decision.
But there’s a dark side. Your dreams, goals, and grand plans are worthless if you let yourself continue to only ask questions. While everyone else ponders and evaluates, it is ultimately the one who takes action that reaps the benefits.
They say no decision is the worst decision. And opportunity does not wait. If you fail to make a decision and act, success may be lost forever.
There comes a point where evaluation becomes procrastination. And in the end it is your responsibility to recognize this, trust your own mind, affirm your whys, leverage what’s important to you, and start doing your decision.