How to make decisions when they matter

We are often faced with having to make decisions that affect our lives. Some of the decisions we make are of little consequence and therefore, if we get them wrong, it doesn’t matter. 

But what about the ones that do matter?

The bigger the decisions the harder it can be to make them.

We generally base our decision making on external factors:

  • What do other people think?
  • Does the decision come with security and safety?
  • What are the long term effects?
  • Is it sensible?

All these things and probably more go through our head, and it is the head that often runs the decision-making process. 

And here lies the problem.

The head is our rational part, the part of us that contains our memories, our past experiences, our conditioning, and our fears and doubts.

The decisions made in our head are more focused on others rather than ourselves.

We all know what it is like to make decisions for the wrong reasons and how bitter regret can be.

To avoid making wrong decisions you need to connect to your heart, your gut, or your intuition, whatever you want to call it. Connecting to yourself will help you determine your own truth.

To make big and potential lifechanging decisions you need to make sure that whatever decide you make, it is the right one – for you.

How do we connect to our heart?

We must become quiet and we must pay attention.

The first step is to separate your head from your heart. To do that, you must become conscious of your thoughts, identify the reasoning behind your thoughts. Are there doubts or fears that drive these thoughts and therefore effect your decision making? Or is there guilt?

It is easy to talk yourself into your head, find reasons and excuses why you should be making a decision that feels wrong.

We often consult others and if they also agree with our head, it makes it even stronger. But what happens in those quiet moments when you can’t escape? This is when your heart becomes louder again. When it tells you “I shouldn’t be doing this.”

You need to listen!

So before making big decisions, ask yourself what it will be like, feel like and look like when you have made the decision. 

Will it be right? Will you feel happy? Will there be a feeling of ease and calm that comes when you have chosen wisely? 

If you are not sure, then think again. This time think with your heart not with your head. Put your head aside, just for a moment and ask yourself: “If I had nothing to lose, if there would be no consequences to anyone else, would I choose the same?” 

If your answer is YES, then you know your decision comes from your heart. 

If the answer is NO, you know that you have made the decision with your head because there are roadblocks and you cannot see your way ahead.

When you focus on problems, the head can easily talk you around. We give up on our dreams, we take the short cut, we start pleasing others and we are guided by our fears.

This is no way to live a life. This is living a life of hiding from yourself, kidding yourself in the hope that one day you might succeed in convincing yourself. This day however, will never come.  Instead, the regrets will mount until such time that you are paying attention again.

So, save yourself the heartache and pay attention. Remember that it’s often easy to make the wrong decisions and harder to make the right ones. 

However, decisions that are right for you are always easier to live with.

This article appeared in the September-October Horses and People Magazine.