You’re ready for change, but to achieve it, you’ve got to take a risk — and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be in a worse place than you are right now. So, should play it safe and stick with what you know, or should you throw caution to the wind and take the risk? The truth is that there’s no way to know you’re making the right decision before you make it, but you can maximise your chances by making sure the decision you come to is truly the best one for you right now. Here’s how to do so.
Four ways to make sure you’re making the right decision
What would you do if success was guaranteed?
A big reason many of us refuse to make a decision is a fear of failure. We literally become so paralysed by the thought of failing at something and being judged by others, that we talk ourselves out of what we want… and into what we don’t want.
However, most of us are great at rationalising our fear of failure when it arises — that’s why we rarely notice when we talk ourselves out of great opportunities because we’re scared. Instead, we find more palatable excuses like, “I can’t afford to quit my job right now” or “I don’t want a promotion, it’ll take up too much of my time and stress me out.”
The right decision is the one that will give you the results you want. Simple. Don’t allow a fear of failure to make you settle for what you don’t want — that by default is the wrong decision. Instead, ask yourself what you would do if success was guaranteed. Your answer will help you identify what you really want to do.
Don’t allow a fear of failure to make you settle for what you don’t want – that by default is the wrong decision. Instead, ask yourself what you would do if success was guaranteed.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Ok, so you’ve now identified what you really want to do. Congratulations! Let’s now address the fears that are making you hesitant to follow through. Remember that fear isn’t the enemy. Yes. it can stop you from doing great things, but it can also save you from making a bad decision. Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you right now.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and allow your imagination to run wild for five minutes. Write down the worst things that could happen if you go with the option you chose when you eliminated failure as an option (see above). Next to each gut-wrenching scenario, write down what you would do if it happened… and don’t pass on this. If every situation on your list happened right now, how would you respond?
Now review your list of bad outcomes and responses. How does it make you feel?
Remembering that the probability of any of these disastrous scenarios actually happening is very small, weigh up how you feel about dealing with these worst-case scenarios versus how you would feel if the decision you made turned out to be a roaring success (as discussed above). Which decision are you now leaning towards?
Yes, fear can stop you from doing great things, but it can also save you from making a bad decision. Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you right now.
Listen to your gut
Your intuition (also known as your gut) is a powerful decision-making tool. Research has found that the best decisions are those made not just with your head, but also with your gut. That’s because your gut is a primal tool. It instinctively keeps you safe from harm by giving you a nudge when something is or isn’t right for you. These gut-based prompts are often based on previous life experiences that you’ve long forgotten (consciously) or rationalised away, so pay attention to them.
Take a moment now to tune into how you really feel about the decision you’re struggling to make. Do you feel light and expansive when you think about saying ‘yes’? Or do you feel heavy and constricted?
Use this as a guide. The ‘right’ decision should make you feel expansive when you think about it.
But watch out for confusing your emotions with your intuition.
A decision can intuitively feel light and expansive but still trigger negative emotions like fear and uncertainty. Similarly, a decision can feel heavy and constricting but spark positive emotions like safety and comfort. Pay close attention when doing this exercise and only look for feelings of lightness or heaviness/tightness while thinking about saying ‘yes’ to the decision you need to make.
Research has found that the best decisions are those made not just with your head, but also with your gut.
When you can’t make a tough decision, it’s common to continue to “think things through” for weeks, months or even years. It’s often believed that doing this buys you more time. In reality, making no decision is a decision in itself — you are choosing to continue with the status quo. If you’ve been thinking about an important decision for more than a few weeks and you’re still no clearer to an answer, that’s a sign that more time isn’t the solution you need.
Instead, stop waiting for a miracle and do the activities listed in this article. The answers they reveal will tell you if you’re making the right decision.
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