Making Decisions:
7 How-To’s

Making Decisions: 7 How-To’s

This morning I had a meeting with someone I hadn’t seen in years. Or even decades. A man, who in the ’80-’90′s was one of the best friends of my brother.

Since the early nineties I lost contact with him for about 20 years, until we met again on a networking event a couple of years ago. At that event we got talking again and caught up with each others life stories, as best as you can in about half an hour. And after that again some years passed until our paths crossed again this morning.

A couple of weeks ago he send me an email. He is going to write the book ‘A Hero’s Journey‘ and based on what we talked about in that networking event a couple of years ago, he wants me [or rather my story] in it.

Of course I was flattered and I agreed to cooperate, so this morning we met and he told me more about his project and his book. It was truly an inspiring meeting, which gave me clarity in a lot of ways!

At one point or another we came to talk about making choices. How it feels to stand in a dark cave and having to choose the right tunnel. And there it was again [for the third time in two weeks...]: making the conscious choice to step on the green road, as I described in last weeks blog about having faith.

Re-reading last weeks blog after this mornings meeting, I realized I skipped a step in the whole process last week… How to make a [tough] choice? How to make that conscious choice to step on that green road?

Which job should you take? What car should you buy? Should you ask him to marry you? Are you ready for another baby? Is this the right house for you? Life is full of hard choices and the bigger they seem to be the harder they get. And what to do when all alternatives seem equally good options? Research shows that in that case most people will not choose at all…

And if you choose, how do you know that what you choose will work out? The answer is, you don’t. We can never know for sure when we make a decision that it’s going work out as we hope. All we can do is follow our strongest calling, and then trust whatever the future holds. It will enrich you life anyway, one way or another.

The fresh eyes of someone who isn’t involved in my life and who isn’t all caught in my story and my situation, helped me a lot in making some decisions this morning. But that cannot be the only way, so I did some research and came up with these seven how-to’s to make a [difficult] decision:


If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to overlook something important. When you’re relaxed, you can think clearly, weigh your options and make a better choice. Slow down and still your mind.

Focus on the present

You can become overwhelmed with the big picture, trying to see how your decisions will affect the future. The process is mentally draining, because you’re trying to see every step along with its every outcome. Focus on the present and make the best decision possible now. Live in the moment and make a decision based on what will make the next step the easiest. Do this for every step along the way.

Embrace the idea of failure

Your biggest fear probably is that your decisions will lead to bad results. But bad decisions can be recovered from and learned from. And whatever the decision, it will enrich you life anyway, one way or another. Not making a decision at all means that you don’t get to determine how your live will unfold. And in the end some thing or someone will make that decision for you. And you don’t want your life to be decided for you, do you?

Ask ‘Why?’ – five times

The ‘Five Whys’ are a problem-solving technique invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota. Although developed as a problem-solving technique, the ‘Five Whys’ can also help you determine whether a choice you’re considering is in line with your core values. For instance:
Why should I take this job? It pays well and offers me a chance to grow.
Why is that important? Because I want to build a career and not just have a string of meaningless jobs.
Why? Because I want my life to have meaning.
Why? So I can be happy.
Why? Because that’s what’s important in life.

Seek wise council

But don’t ask each and everyone of your friends and family! Consult only those whose opinions you value, or those who have faced similar circumstances. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and be willing to listen. And sometimes wise council is given to you spontaneously. Like to me, this morning…

Don’t over-analyze

Once you made a decision, don’t agonize needlessly over it. Once you’ve made the call, have confidence in the fact that you did your research, thought things through and trusted your instincts. Then chill out.

Own your decision

Whatever process you use to come to your decision, claim ownership of your choice. If you feel pressured into a choice or not in control of the conditions, you’ll find that even a positive outcome has a negative taste to it. On the other hand, taking full responsibility for your choices can make even failure feel like a success . You’ll know you did your best and you’ll have gained valuable experience for next time.

The more you practice making small decisions, the better you’ll become when it’s time to make the tough ones. Personal growth and development will be a rewarding part of the process!


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Now back to you…
What do you find is the most difficult thing about making a decision?
Share with us in the comment box below!!

Mirjam Stoffels

Founder of seven2success, author of ‘Daily Little Secrets to Success’ and guest blogger at TEDxRoermond, Project Eve and 365 dagen succesvol. In my mission to make seven2success the biggest platform of knowledge and inspiration for women, I want to inspire you with our content! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Let’s to connect! And do you want to inspire other women? Write for us!

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