The 250 Words series asks our storytellers to answer one question in 250 words, offering different perspectives on a variety of things.
Question 8: What process do you use to make difficult decisions?
Jess: Trusted Advisors
Although it’s been scientifically debunked that following your intuition isn’t a fool-proof strategy in decision-making (I’m a psych major, what can I say?), I do believe that we know, in our heart-of-hearts, what outcome we’re pining for when it comes to making a difficult decision. At the same time, the process of making that decision can be convoluted by things like denial and fear, which is why journalling or consulting the important people in my life are tools I use when faced with a difficult decision.
When it comes to difficult decision-making, my first point of action typically involves a phone call to my top advisor (my Mom). She has an enlightened edge over my friends by virtue of all the life she has lived in the last 50 some-odd years. She’s a pretty impatient listener, though, so I’ve got to have my case ready to go. When I can get her to focus, she helps me sort through the possibilities and sugar coats nothing. In typical Mom fashion, these conversations always end with an “I’ll support you no matter what,” which is always comforting. My friends are also a good sounding board and can usually relate to where I’m at in a more age-appropriate way than my Mom can. The truth is that sometimes I’m an irrational butthead and my friends are pretty good at telling me what’s what and letting me know when I’m over-thinking a decision. When it gets down to it, though, I find the standard pros and cons list to be a good strategy. Once it’s all down on paper, I’ll sleep on it for as long as I need to.
Zahra: No strategy is the strategy
My mum tells me there are two kinds of people on this planet; indecisive folks who take 5ever plus 1 to make up their mind and folks that make abrupt, in the moment choices as though only thinking for themselves. And then there is a third hybrid mutation, me, who while shopping will start to cry because she can’t pick a colour (true story) and the following day book a plane ticket without telling her parents (also true story).
I want to say my process includes asking for advice from my elders and peers and maybe creating a pros and cons list structure but that would be a big fat lie. Sadly, at age twenty, my most difficult life altering choices (i.e. picking my university, my program, my courses, spending money, etc.) have been pushed aside until the last minute escalating my anxiety further and further to eventually breakdown and make hasty judgements. A step to Google said consequences of choices is involved in the process somewhere but it’s never helpful as much as it is a creator of more self doubts.
At this point, I’m telling myself this will end after university – that when it comes to real life, I’ll make more informed decisions in advance but that’s actually me being ignorant to reality, thinking old habits quit cold turkey. This is serious. This is a problem. I should probably see someone.
What I’m really trying to say here is that I’m worse than the worse person to be in a position to be giving any advice on this matter.
Janine: What If?
I’d say generally, I’m a pretty indecisive person. When it comes to basic things like if I should go to an event, or what should I wear today, I literally can’t decide if my life depended on it. However, when it comes to making more difficult decisions where my life actually depended on it, I’m a bit more active but the indecisiveness is still real. I often start with visualizing the pros and cons of each option, something I think is pretty common in any decision making process. I also like to ask for other’s thoughts from people I trust, AKA my mom, because they may bring up an idea that I haven’t even considered.
Sometimes my indecisiveness takes the best of me and I start over-powering my brain with a bunch of “What if” situations. I start to get worried about the negative situations because, what if it actually happened. But then I will think of the best possible outcome and wonder, “What if I choose this option, but will this amazing outcome realistically ever happen?”
Ultimately, I’ve realized that whatever decision I make happens for a reason, whether that be a new skill I gained or something I’ve learned about myself. If it doesn’t work out, then something else will.
How do you process and make difficult decisions? Share your strategies in 250 words via email or drop us a message on Facebook.