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Lately, I’ve been thinking about life decisions and why in adulthood, some of us continue to make really bad ones. You know, the ones that the rest of us cringe at because we know it’s not going to end well, yet the person making said bad decision is oblivious or unwilling to acknowledge the risk they’re taking. It doesn’t matter if it’s making bad financial bets, cheating on a spouse, getting drunk on the job or moving across the country for a guy you barely know. We’ve all seen this happen. Heck, it might even be us!
This is not a definitive list of ideas for building your decision-making muscle, but it’s a tangible start.
- Only say yes to things that light you up. This is hard but vital. If you need help determining your most important priorities, pick up the book Essentialism. It’s a game-changer (and I don’t say that about many books).
- Be thoughtful about your decisions in life. You don’t always have control over outcomes, but you can be intentional about your direction and purpose. If you are weighing a potential decision, consider best and worst case scenarios. Can you deal with the worst case? If so, and the potential gains are worth it, then you should be confident that you’re at least directionally correct.
- Be patient, success doesn’t come overnight. If your long-term goals are that important to you, you will find a way to keep going. If they’re no longer that important to you, then course correct. Sometimes life priorities change, and that’s okay. Just don’t give up on yourself.
- Create daily habits – just small, supportive behaviors that support your big picture goals. People often think that you have to make massive changes to reach a goal. That’s typically not the case. The smaller the changes, the more likely you are to maintain them.
- Know yourself. Make self-awareness an ongoing study so you’re aware of your strengths, weaknesses, fears and desires. Then set your life up to protect yourself from weaknesses. Always practice self-love and acceptance. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be and that’s okay.
- Instead of dwelling on problems, focus your energy on finding solutions. So much energy goes into ruminating on things we can’t change. But if we accept what is and commit to making it better, then you immediately empower yourself. It’s a simple, but important mindset shift.
- If you feel fear, acknowledge it, but don’t let it stop you. Fear is designed to protect you from danger. But most decisions aren’t dangerous. They’re just intimidating. If the risk is greater than the reward, then perhaps it’s not worth it. But if the reward is greater than the risk, then close your eyes and go for it.
- Practice gratitude and stop complaining. NO ONE wants to hear your complaints. We are all pushing boulders up hill. Stop burdening others with the weight of your boulder.
- Spend less than you earn. This is such a simple principle yet it’s broadly ignored in our culture of “accumulate and pay later”. There is no greater way to reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm then by simplifying your life, owning less stuff, and reveling in the peacefulness of knowing you have enough.
- Eat less than you burn. Same idea as above. If you are struggling to enjoy great health and a beautiful physique, move more often than not, and eat less (and better) than you currently are. It’s so simple and no lotions or potions required.
I know some of these may sound cliche, but they are remarkably powerful if you are willing to take the time to implement them in your life. Perhaps not all are ideal for you, but take what resonates and leave the rest.