All about making decisions

Indecision can have a really negative impact on how you’re feeling, so good decision making skills are really useful when you’re faced with a tough choice. Get tips on how to make good decisions, and find out what to do when you can’t figure out a plan.

This can help if:

  • You're working through a problem
  • You're facing uncertainty 
  • You're in the process of making plans
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Why decision making is useful

People make hundreds of decisions every day, most of which are straightforward and happen without us thinking too much about them. However, when situations are more complicated and have longer term impacts, decisions get more difficult to make.

It’s common for people when faced with tough decisions to feel:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Stressed or anxious
  • Wound up
  • Pressured
  • Confused
  • Distracted
  • Tired
Because indecision can have a really negative impact on how you are feeling, it’s important to learn strategies for making positive decisions in tough situations.

Tips for making decisions

  • Don’t let stress get the better of you. Being faced with a tough choice can make people stressed out and anxious. No one wants to feel stressed, so people tend to either rush decisions without thinking them through, or they completely avoid making a decision at all because their stress has put them off their game. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about a decision, it’s important to try and manage your stress so that it doesn’t get in the way of you making the right choice.
  • Give yourself some time (if possible). Giving yourself the chance to sit on a problem for a little while can help you to be sure you are happy with a course of action. So if you have time to decide, take it.
  • Weigh up the pros/cons. If there are a lot of factors to consider about a situation, it’s likely that there are going to be some negative impacts, no matter what decision you end up making. Write a list of pros and cons for each course of action and then compare them.
  • Think about your goals and values. Goals and values can help make a decision. When you factor the things that are important to you into a decision, you’re more likely to end up with an outcome you are happy with. 
  • Consider all the possibilities.When you’re making a decision there can be several different outcomes and not all of them are obvious. When you’re looking at each option, don’t just list the positives and negatives; try and write down any likely or possible consequences that could impact on your choice.
  • Talk it out. It can be really helpful to get other people’s perspectives on different options, particularly when they’ve made similar decisions in the past. 
  • Keep a diary. If you’re on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, it might help to keep track of all your feelings by writing them down.
  • Plan how you will tell others If you think someone may have a bad response to your decision, try and think through what their reaction is likely to be. This will help you think about good ways of managing the situation. 
  • Rethink your options If you’re up against a lot of pressures over a decision, or different challenges have arisen, it never hurts to have a look over your options again. You may decide that your original decision is still the best for you, but decisions don’t have to be final. If you think a decision is no longer right for you, go through the steps again to figure out what is.

If you’re really having trouble with a tough choice

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative feelings because you are facing a tough decision, it’s important that you look after yourself. Take some time out to relax or do something you enjoy.

If you’re finding indecision over a situation is impacting how you get on day to day, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust, or make a visit to a counsellor. They’ll be able to help you work through the process of decision making, and guide you through different strategies.

What can I do now?

  • Work on your problem solving skills.
  • There’s not always a right decision, do the best you can with the information you have.
  • If it’s getting you down, talk to someone you trust.
Last reviewed: 30 November, 2015
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