Our lives are a reflection of our choices.
From minor insignificant to major life-altering decisions we are constantly called upon to choose – what to eat, or wear, or whether to relocate, or retire. The simple choices are easy to make, but the important ones can leave us paralyzed in indecision or filled with regret.
Making big decisions feels riskier because they can’t be undone which can significantly ramp up anxiety. If we feel driven to make a perfect decision, we can put so much pressure on ourselves that we end up not deciding, regretting, or obsessing over them. Constantly doubting and reevaluating our choices robs us of peace of mind. Second guessing our choices creates dissatisfaction.
Our personalities influence how satisfied we may be with our decisions. Some people (satisficers) are naturally satisfied with a good enough choice that meets a set standard, whereas others (maximizers) who keep options open and explore all possibilities tend to struggle with their choice. Regret and frustration set in for them because even after making a decision, they continue to explore options through seeking advice and validation, making comparisons, and fantasizing about different outcomes.
Being satisfied with your decision matters because it elevates your mood and leads to greater overall contentment. Therefore when deciding, it is imperative you are clear on the reasons, your feelings, and emotional justifications for a decision. Equally important is realizing that we may not always be 100% satisfied with a decision, but we can learn to feel okay with it. Even if new info surfaces after you’ve made a decision, remind yourself that you made the best decision with the information you had at the time. When we are committed, we are able to justify our decision, feel confident we made the correct choice, and then stop exploring other options.
Try these steps to becoming comfortable with your decisions:
Trust your intuition
After doing homework, making pros and cons lists, and other rational processes, be sure to also connect with your body as part of the decision making process. Depending on the options you are considering, your body will be giving you strong feedback, so pay attention to physical sensations of shallow breath, constricted throat, nervousness, and calm, and safety. Take time to consider these valuable forms on input too. Trust your gut instinct.
Baba Shiv, Stanford professor in neuroscience of decision making, notes that decisions are based on rationality, emotions, gut instinct, seeing yourself living with the decision, and committing to making it succeed.
If you have done the homework, checked in with your body, and emotions about a decision then rest in the knowledge that you’ve empowered yourself to make the best possible decision. The next important thing is learning to trust in that process and the outcome.
Stop looking for alternatives.
The way to commit to your choice is to stop exploring, researching, and soliciting opinions. No matter how much advice or guidance you receive, ultimately the right choice is the one you are motivated to make successful, feels comfortable and is easiest to live with.
To disrupt the habit of revisiting your decisions with regret, keep coming back to the present moment. Form a mantra or affirmation that will anchor you to the now and motivate you to be happy with your choice.
A final thought – the correctness of a choice is determined by what we do in the period after choosing as much as the act of making the choice.
May you find peace in your choices.