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How "Small" Trends Create Excellent Possibilities For You »

5 Guaranteed Strategies to Help You Make Decisions

I don't know about you, but while I love having choices and possibilities, too many can make me feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or distracted. There's a reason why most marketing strategies revolve around offering only three options or why consumers opt for three bids on home improvement projects. We want choices. We want enough information, but we don’t want to be overwhelmed by an overabundance of possibilities.

Think about the grocery store's cereal aisle. Talk about options. Not only are there hundreds of cereal types and flavors available, but also each type is available in many sizes. Unless you know what you want, just selecting a box of cereal can be intimidating.

What about when you're trying to organize, downsize, or let go of the thousands of things that you're emotionally attached to? Progress includes the many decisions we will make. It’s not just about what to keep or let go of, but why and where to keep our things or how and where to let go of them.

When possibilities abound and include variables that we have little to no control over, it becomes especially challenging to make decisions. So what can you do?

There are five strategies that are particularly helpful when you’re struggling with decision-making.


1. Find Sounding Board Buddy

It helps to have a good listener to talk through your options. The process of talking out loud can help you clarify the options. An added benefit is that your buddy might notice something you hadn't considered or ask a question that unblocks your thinking.


2. Exercise Flexibility

I mentioned earlier that we don’t have control over all of the circumstances surrounding the possibilities. The ability to have a plan or two while remaining flexible can help. When you are moving towards uncharted territory, you can't know with certainty the affect your decisions will have on the outcome. Remaining flexible let’s you choose more freely.


3. Identify Elements in Your Control

There are variables with all decisions. Some of those factors are within your control and most are not. Focus on identifying the parts you have complete control over. Work to resolve them. Move forward from there.


4. Sleep On It

There's nothing like a good night's sleep to help the brain relax. Sleep is a natural reboot for the mind and body. Waking up in a restful, ready state will help you approach the new day with clarity of thought.


5.  Decide, Then Let Go.

Choosing a path or making a decision is the work. It's the stressful part. Once you make your choice, breathe deeply and then let go of the outcome. Experience and live with the outcome for some time. If it isn't working, you can re-evaluate based on the new circumstance, and make the next decision.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. What are helps you navigate the multitude of possibilities? Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (11)

This is so true! Just try and buy toothpaste:) When I have something that needs thoughtful decision making, I pray about it. I love the question, "How important will this choice be 10 years from now?" This helps me put things in perspective and not get overwhelmed by the number of decisions I need to make every day. I think your last point is so important. Once you've made the choice, just go forward. Don't hinder your progress by allowing "second guessing" to drag your down!

October 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- Cereal, toothpaste, decisions to be made at every "aisle!" :) It's great that your spirituality helps with your process. And I LOVE your "importance" question to help put things in perspective. Thank you for sharing it.

October 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I think I need to adopt Seana's approach! I spend far too long agonizing over minor decisions, and jumping into the more important ones. Thinking long term will help me put things in their proper perspective.

October 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I find that it helps if I write down what I have to do. It reminds me what the next steps are in the process of purging. After I finish one step, I then write down what's the next step. I do that step and then write down the next step. It helps me keep my eye on getting things done.

October 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

For me it's limiting choices that helps me make a decision. If I have too many choices, toothpaste or other, I can't make a decision. I have come up with my number 3. Just 3 choices and that's all the options I need.

October 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

I have learned over the years not to make decisions too quickly. I used to make my decisions immediately without thinking through my options. I love the sounding board method. I have a good friend past whom I run many decisions. It's so helpful to me to have my friend point out other things to consider - the ripple effect of my decision. This has really helped me avoid some pitfalls. Great post, Linda and I love reading my colleagues responses!

October 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

Letting go and sitting with the decision really spoke to me. If we are constantly fretting over the decisions we make it might have a negative effect on our decisions moving forward.

October 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

It's wonderful to hear from all of you. I appreciate the many perspectives and strategies that you've offered.

@Janet- It's so normal to "agonize" over decision-making both minor and major ones. Putting some boundaries or long term perspective around that process (as Seana suggested) can help so much.

@Sabrina- Isn't it great when you find strategies that work for you? Your technique of writing down one step at a time to help you focus and keep overwhelm at a minimum sounds like a successful approach for you.

@Ellen- Love your clarity of "3!" I agree with you about the value of limiting our choices.

@Diane- Thank you for adding your perspective about knowing when to SLOW the decision-making process. It's wonderful that you have a friend that acts as your sounding board. I also find hearing other perspectives is valuable, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed.

@Jaime- The letting go can be hard to do. But if you're able to, it can have a positive effect on the outcome. When we get into that second guessing mode it creates more stress than necessary.

October 19, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Ellen's idea is excellent!

October 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Nothing quite like the power of 3!

October 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

#1 is my personal favorite. A verbal processor here. Mind maps work similarly. But I love my accountability partner meetings the best.

October 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

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