Helping clients to get back in charge of their lives, with the confidence, calmness & self-sufficiency to flourish.

Difficult decisions, challenging choices.

In our lives we’re presented with a constant stream of choices that require us to make decisions, thankfully most of them are not too difficult: Should I take the bus to work, or should I walk? Perhaps we have a preference to walk, as we’re trying to lose weight or keep fit, making it an easy choice, or perhaps it’s raining, which may make it an equally obvious choice.

As a result, it’s not surprising that we come to think of decisions as having one choice that is ultimately right, and one that is ultimately wrong, and we apply this kind of logic to all choices that we’re presented with. In fact, if life was this simple we’d all become quite robotic, as we follow logic and reason every step of the way. But difficult decisions present us with a different situation, one where the simple right/wrong, yes/no logic doesn’t apply, yet we so often fail to see that this is the case. Why?

Much of the time, a decision is difficult because it doesn’t have an obvious ‘right’ answer, and yet, whilst we might already realise this, we continue to review the options, think through the outcomes, and become frustrated by our inability to find the ‘right’ answer, even though we already know it does not exist! No wonder we so often feel we’re driving ourselves crazy in the process, as we endlessly think through our options, changing our mind again and again.

In such moments in can be helpful to recognise that the choice we’re considering doesn’t have a right/wrong answer, it simply has two different answers, each of which is right or wrong in similar measures. Perhaps both offer us the potential to be happy with the outcome of our choice, but in different ways. Let’s say the choice is between continuing to follow a career path as an employee or setting up a business of our own. In fact, each may offer a similar potential for future success, satisfaction and happiness: We just need to be comfortable enough to become the person that is better suited to the outcome we choose. In a sense, we go on to create the reason to have made that choice, after we’ve made the choice. In reality, this is a really empowering moment, one when we get to look inside ourselves for the reason and logic behind a choice, rather than searching outside.

In this way, we can come to see difficult decisions as those moments when we actually get to write the story of our life, rather than just drifting from one easy choice to the next.

Another reason we can find it so difficult to make the right decision is something psychologists call ‘affective forecasting’ - predicting how our emotional state will be in the future. But that’ll become the subject of another post…