We've all gone through the experience of feeling stuck when we have a decision to make. You keep running things over in your head, but you can't figure out what's best, and you're unclear about what you should do. It can be frustrating and unsettling, and simply going over things repeatedly doesn't get you any further ahead.
Here are 5 tips to help you gain clarity when you're struggling to make a decision and you can't figure out what you should do.
Tip #1: Sleep on it; or at least take a break.
Sometimes, we just need to step away from the problem for awhile, in order to let things percolate in our subconscious mind. Later, when we come back to the issue, we're able to look at it with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective. Sleeping on the problem is ideal, as you have the whole night for your subconscious to work on it. But just stepping away briefly and shifting your focus to something else can also help. For instance, spend some time working out or getting absorbed in your favourite hobby, and then try coming back to the issue again. Something may jump out at you that you weren't seeing before.
Tip #2: Make a list of the pros and cons.
In cases where we need to choose between potential options, we may be struggling to make a decision because all of the options have their advantages and disadvantages. At the same time, we can become so distracted by one particular benefit or drawback, we're unable to see the big picture. This is where making a list of pros and cons can be super helpful. Simply write down the options you're considering, and list the pros and cons for each option. This allows you to see all the benefits, as well as all the costs and trade-offs, more clearly. As you review the two lists that you've come up, with you might find that certain items stand out more than others. This leads to the next tip.
Tip #3: Identify your priorities based on your own values.
Your decision needs to make sense to you; it needs to align with your values. That's why prioritizing is so important. In making your decision, what matters most to you? This is where you take items from your pros and cons list, and sort them from most important to least important. You might find that a certain course of action appears extremely attractive to an onlooker, but it's less appealing to you given the nature of your priorities. This exercise is especially useful during those times when you're feeling pressured or influenced by other people's opinions, as it provides an opportunity to start tuning in to what you really want.
Tip #4: Work it out in writing.
As you mull things over in your head, it can start to feel as if you're going in circles and getting nowhere. Writing things out is a great way to sort through all the mental clutter and start organizing your thoughts. Give yourself permission to write down whatever you're thinking and feeling. As you engage in the reflection necessary to capture your inner world on paper, you'll be amazed at how much gets revealed and clarified in the process. Oftentimes answers will appear seemingly from nowhere, and you'll begin to gain insight into what you should do.
Tip #5: Listen to what your body is telling you and trust your intuition.
This last tip is by far the most important one. As you work on making your decision, pay attention to how your body is responding. As you consider a particular course of action, how do you feel inside? Do you feel a sense of excitement? An eagerness to proceed? That's often an indication that something is a good fit for you. That doesn't necessarily mean it will turn out perfectly; but you're far more likely to feel good about having gone down that road, no matter what the outcome is.
And what if your feelings are more on the negative side as you consider certain options? Do you feel a sense of hesitancy, dread, perhaps even foreboding? At any point do you feel a tightness in your stomach? This is generally an indication that something is not a good fit and not good for you. Pay attention to what excites you and makes you feel light vs. what unsettles you and makes you feel heavy; trust your intuition.
How to Gain Clarity When You Feel Conflicted
Key Characteristics of Healthy Compromise
Why You're Feeling Emotionally Drained
How to Avoid Unwanted Weight Gain After 50
Selenium: The Multitasking Mineral Your Body Needs