When it comes to big life decisions, planning and preparation are key. However, sometimes we are faced with time constraints that limit the ability to see the big picture. I have been in both situations where I had the luxury of time and where I did not. There are some common strategies that I employed in all circumstances that helped me come to the ultimate decisions that I made.
While I sometimes wonder “what if” I had made a different decision, I do believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m on the path I’m supposed to be on. I’m personally in the process of using these steps to help me with a big life decision regarding leaving the country and potential work. So here are three strategies to consider as you think about the next big decision in your life.
Advice for big life decisions
1. Be selective about the advice your receive
I do believe it is important to seek out advice from the people who may be impacted by your decision or who have been in similar situations. However, be mindful of sharing your dilemma with every single person in your life. If you tell 15 people, you may end up getting 15 different suggestions on what you “should” do. Most people are trying to be helpful, but they can only speak from their personal perspectives and experience.
2. Make a pro/con list
I am definitely a list type of gal. I love to write things down and check them off as I go. The benefit of writing pros and cons is to visualize all the possible things that could be good or bad about your decision. My suggestion is to do a brain dump first and just create two lists: one with all of the pros that go along with your possible decision and one with the cons that go along with your decision.
After getting every possible consequence, reason, or benefit that you can think of down on paper, then start to prioritize the importance of those impacts. For example, if you are thinking about moving to another state, but your child is in their senior year of high school, can you wait one year? Or, if there is an opportunity to make more money that could benefit the long run and the chance won’t come around again, then perhaps you might want to seize it.
3. Write down the most important questions
If there are any unknowns about your potential big life decision that someone could answer, then write down every question you have. What are the things you want to know? Who can you talk to for advice that you trust? What else has to happen if you make this decision?
You will probably think of questions as you are creating your pros and cons list and go back and forth between these two strategies. Do your best to find answers to these questions as you process the best course of action regarding this life decision. Again, prioritize the most important responses to help facilitate the best decision for you and the people you care about.
A few reminders as you think about what to do with these big life decisions:
- You probably won’t be able to make everyone happy no matter which course you choose.
- Don’t be swayed by everyone’s input to the point of confusion.
- Be realistic about your timeline as you start planning so you don’t get rushed at the end if you can help it.
Whatever it is that you’re thinking about changing in your life, employ these strategies to try to come to the best decision possible. We are human and sometimes we don’t make the right ones, so be forgiving with yourself and the people around you as much as possible, particularly during stressful times. Big life decisions are no easy tasks. Wishing you every happiness in your life!