Your decisions will not be perfect.
It can seem like we have to be certain we are making the correct choice in order to feel confident in our decision-making.
The thing is, we are human.
Expecting ourselves to always get It right means expecting ourselves to see into the future. We can’t predict all the outcomes and consequences of every decision.
So often there isn’t even a right answer. We think that if we just pick the best option that everything will be ok. If we choose wrong then everything will be awful and it’ll be all our fault.
It’s not that straightforward.
Often our options aren’t good or bad but rather a choice between different possibilities. Sometimes there are no good options and we are trying to choose between undesirable alternatives.
Outside approval won’t guarantee a right answer
When we’re feeling uncertain about a decision, we often turn to other people. Sometimes we ask for advice or poll everyone we know to try to gauge the best choice. Many of us have learned to base our decisions on what others want.
We look for outside approval to reassure us that what we are choosing is ok. We may also look for someone who will be critical of our decision, hoping to be talked out of something that stretches our comfort zone.
Of course, there are times when someone else has useful knowledge or experience. Considering honest feedback is different from doing whatever someone else thinks we should.
Looking to others when we’re making decisions can be a way of abdicating responsibility. It’s more comfortable to share the blame if things don’t turn out how we hope. We seek safety in agreement, but the most popular decision is not always the best one.
Other people can tell us what they would decide, but they cannot know what our truest decision would be. While certain people may be able to support us as we make our decision, they can’t decide for us. No one can know us and what matters to us as well as we can know ourselves.
You can change course and choose what’s next
You are capable of making a decision. You are also capable of changing your mind and of navigating the consequences of your decision.
For some decisions, if we change our minds we can simply choose something else. We may be out some time or money. It might mean having an uncomfortable conversation. We may disappoint someone. But we can choose something different.
Other decisions are less easily changed. There may be options that are no longer available. We may need to grieve the loss of something we can’t get back. Our next choices may feel more limited because of what we chose before.
Changing our mind doesn’t mean we will escape the consequences of our previous decision. We can’t turn back time. We do, however, get to decide what’s next and who we will be as we navigate those consequences.
Realizing we wish we would have chosen differently is not a reason to give up on ourselves. We are capable of staying with ourselves to keep making the next decision and the next.
Even if we still believe we’ve made the best decision available, there will be things we have to figure out. Life is not perfect.
Practice listening to yourself
You will live with the consequences of your decision. Make sure it’s really yours.
We get caught up in swirling thoughts—all the pros and cons, potential outcomes, and everyone else’s opinions. Even different aspects of ourselves will often have varying opinions on what we should do. Our most fearful parts are unlikely to agree with our most courageous parts about what is best for us.
All of those conflicting thoughts can keep us stuck in indecision. So how do we know what to choose?
It’s helpful to have a place to untangle your thoughts and get them out of your head to where you can see or hear them. Write them out. Speak them out loud to a recorder or to a trusted person who can reflect back what they hear. Putting our thoughts into specific words can make them a little easier to work with.
Also, our minds are not our only way of knowing. Logic is an important part of decision-making, but it’s not everything.
How does each option align with your values?
What do you want, even if it doesn’t seem practical?
Given everything else going on in your life right now, what is your current capacity for risk?
When you consider each option one at a time, how do you feel? How does your body respond?
Connect with the place where your deep inner knowing lives in you. What does this wise part of you have to say?
Confident decision-making doesn’t depend on making perfect choices. Make the best decision you can with your current knowledge and capacity. Trust yourself to be there through whatever comes next.