We all face times in life where we have to make big decisions. It could pertain to your work, education, a health matter, a family situation, a relationship, or anything else where you feel like you have a lot at stake. These times can be stressful, emotionally draining, and downright nerve-wracking as you try to figure out your next steps.
Here are 4 common traps to avoid when faced with making a big life decision.
Putting careful thought into things before taking action is good; but you don't want to fall into the trap of overthinking, where you're just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. Life is complex, and even with the most careful planning, there's no way to identify every possible variable in the picture. Likewise, aiming for perfect and complete knowledge before you make a decision isn't realistic. At some point, after thinking things through, you need to be willing make a move.
If it's your tendency to overthink things, try setting some basic and specific requirements regarding the information you need to gather and what you need to consider before moving forward. This will ensure that you don't find yourself examining and re-examining the situation indefinitely.
Trying to predict the future
There's value in planning, as it can save you from costly mistakes. But even with the most careful planning, it's impossible to predict the future. Everyone's life is filled with a few surprises, both good and bad. An essential part of getting through life is learning how to deal with the unexpected when it lands on your doorstep. When faced with a big decision, accept that no matter how carefully plan, you'll never be able to control all future outcomes.
Getting caught up in someone else's agenda
Sometimes, the difficulty we face in making a decision comes from the fact that we're out of touch with what we truly feel and truly want. Instead, we're completely caught up in someone else's agenda. It might be expectations from family, pressure from friends, or a general sense of what you "should" do based on what society at large deems appropriate.
If you struggle with this, make an effort to get tuned in to your own values and priorities. This type of self-awareness provides a powerful anchor, and will bring clarity around what you should do in difficult situations.
Inaction due to fear of the unknown
It's human nature to cling to what's familiar, even when it's no longer serving our best interests. We view what's familiar as being safe, and we feel nervous heading into unfamiliar territory. This fear of the unknown often leads to inaction. We don't know how things will turn out if we make any changes, so we don't do anything. We may even find ourselves in a state of denial, refusing to acknowledge the circumstances unfolding right in front of us. In some cases, inaction can make things much worse, such as when you're in a bad situation that is becoming increasingly detrimental to your emotional health and well-being.
Don't let your fear of the unknown become so powerful that it renders you completely immobile, especially if you're facing a situation that you know isn't good for you. Acknowledge what you're dealing with, identify the elements that you do have control over, and make the best decision you can with the knowledge that you have. Have faith in yourself that you'll find a way to navigate the unknown road ahead.
It's natural to feel some apprehension when making big decisions. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it serves as your internal warning to take things seriously, rather than plowing ahead hastily with no regard for the consequences of your actions. Challenging as it may be, decisions have to be made, and those decisions will ultimately play a key role in steering the direction of your life. The good news is that over time, you'll find that your decision-making abilities improve, giving you increased confidence as you face future challenges.
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