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Draper Journal

Four tips to making tough decisions

Jun 03, 2024 11:14AM ● By Holly Curby

Learn more about making tough decisions on Holly’s Highlights podcast. (Photo courtesy Holly Curby)

There are endless decisions we have to make in life—perhaps you are dealing with some right now: decisions about relationships, moving out of state and relocating, parenting, changing jobs, or even tough financial decisions. Many high school and college graduates can relate right now as to the decision of “what’s next?” It’s not just in our personal life either, but also in our working life we deal with tough calls every day—budgets, changing procedures, customer service decisions, promotions, development, and overall needs of a business.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

So, what are some things we can consider when having to make tough decisions:

1. Take your time. Many decisions come with a deadline, but not every decision has to be immediate or a knee-jerk response. Sometimes there is growth to be had within the decision making itself—patience, grit, perseverance or even adaptability. Time may be your friend. Caution: don’t mistake procrastination for taking your time.

2. Make sure the wise person shows up not the foolish. We’ve all heard the phrase “do what makes you happy.” Well, sometimes the choice of what we want is not what we need. It’s the head choice over the heart choice perspective. Be cautious of in the moment emotional decisions. In fact, never text, post on social media or even reply to an email when you are tired, emotional or hangry. You could make matters worse, not realize the unintended consequences, or simply regret it. When we are dealing with tough weighty decisions impulsiveness is not the key, it’s being calm, cool and collected so that the wise person can show up.

3. Seek wise counsel. One of the wisest things we can do is to surround ourselves with others who provide strength where we are weak. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we can tap into learning from them in their area of expertise. We can prosper from their wise counsel. Look around you. Who has their life together in the area you want to improve? Who has proven themselves to be raw and real while level headed? Who has had to deal with a situation you are dealing with right now? As leader Ziad Abdelnour said, “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” Seeking help and advice is not a sign of weakness or inability—it’s a sign of strength and determination to do well. It’s often a side of having a growth mindset and caring about the decision that is yours to begin with.

4. Sleep on it. Growing up my mom used to always tell me that if I had a hard decision to make, once I was leaning one way or another—sleep on it. If I woke up full of regret and panic I probably ought to rethink that decision. But if I woke up with a peace (not to say nerves won’t still be there sometimes), then I’m probably on the right track. So, before you make your next big decision in life sleep on it.

Now with decision making may often come added stress. Whether feeling anxious at the decision to be had, overwhelmed by the process of the decision itself, decision fatigue from having to make too many decisions, or even confusion as to what decision to even make, remember to take care of you in the process. Remove yourself from a situation, take a walk to get fresh air or simply catch your breath, exercise or plan a get together with friends to unwind. Whatever it is don’t let the stress of making tough decisions get the best of you.

If you’re finding decision making nearly impossible to do and it’s effecting your everyday this could be a good indicator to seek professional counseling or a medical adviser. It might even reveal the opportunity to work with a leadership or life coach so you can develop problem solving skills, figure out good coping skills for you, and improve self-awareness. 

Whatever decision you are needing to make in life or leadership, may you be reminded to take the time you need in making it, ensure that the wise person shows up and not the foolish, seek wise counsel, and give it a night to sleep on it. 

For more in-depth discussion on this topic or for related episodes, check out Holly’s Highlights podcast Season 4 Episode 8 available wherever you listen to podcasts such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, as well as on λ