When you wake up in the morning, you can either a) stay in bed, or b) get out of bed and face the day. Because of your many responsibilities, we’re assuming that you usually choose to get out of bed. But, in other cases, we know it’s not always easy to make a decision. So, for future instances when you’re not quite sure what to do next, here are ways to make a decision that will benefit you in the long run.

Step 1: Weigh your options.

A golden balancing scale is on top of a wooden block.

Although this one seems obvious, it’s tough sometimes, especially when the choices seem equal. To help you make a decision, create a pros and cons list. It’s not cliché, it’s effective. Imagine and play out every single scenario or effect that each option could result in. If at the end of your analysis you find one choice to have clearer and definite benefits, you know what to do. But suppose your analysis doesn’t end with an obvious choice. Then it’s time to bring in the big guns: outside input.

Step 2: Phone a friend.

A person wears sunglasses and holds a cellphone up to their ear.

This isn’t Who Wants to Be a Millionaire™. You don’t get one “lifeline”. You can have as many as you’d like, so call up the people you trust and ask for their expertise. If they’ve already accomplished the things you want to achieve, they’ll likely be able to tell you how to get there. Explain the results of your pros and cons analysis. It’s difficult to see your situation from another perspective, and seemingly impossible when you feel rushed or forced to make a decision soon. Receiving outside input from folks you confide in will give you a little more clarity and hopefully reveal the better option.

Step 3: Zoom out.

An aerial view of a wooded area shows a car driving on a wooden bridge over a river.

Often when someone is struggling to make a decision, they’re also failing to look at the long-term results of each choice. Rather than thinking about how the choice will affect you this week, consider how it will affect you in a year. If it’s a big decision, think about how it could affect you in five or more years. Step back from your present focused mindset and allow yourself to become future focused. Make a choice that’s going to benefit you for years to come, not just into the following week. 

Step 4: Stand your ground.

A person stands on a rocky outcropping near the ocean at sunset.

If we’re forced to make a decision quickly, it’s common to choose what’s easier or more comfortable. We encourage you to challenge that mindset and heavily weigh the difficult or unnerving options. If there are more benefits to this option, then you may just be trying to avoid it because you’re scared.

In this case, pick that option and watch as it forces you to face your fears and expand the boundaries of your comfort zone. If fears or simplicity aren’t the reason you’re struggling to choose, this guide effectively explains how to make great decisions, quickly.

Step 5: Consult the affected.

Two people enjoy cups of tea.

Another piece to remember is your inclusion of the parties who may be affected by your decision. Although you can probably hypothesize how your decision may impact others, if they will be directly affected, it’s best to consult them. Ask them how your choice will change their life. If it’s a positive change, then you have nothing to worry about. If they say your decision is going to put negative strain on them, you may reconsider your choice. Genuinely imagine what their life is like and how your actions will change it. Always consider the impact of your choices. 

And this should go without saying, but if you’re making a decision that’s going to impact a group of people … it’s best to just include them in the decision-making process.  

Step 6: Commit.

Two people skydive after jumping out of a plane.

Once you’ve narrowed down the option with the lowest negative impact, it’s time to commit to that decision. Make the choice, then notify the people who it’s going to affect. It will be difficult at first but will also help them to prepare and hopefully minimize the negative effect on their life. 

Now, all there’s left to do is take action. Create a plan that will help you stick with the decision you’ve made and see it through to the end.

Another big factor that often influences our decisions is the expectations of others. Read our blog on shedding others’ expectations to ensure that they’re not influencing your decisions.