5 tips to help you with tough decisions

When was the last time you were stuck making a difficult choice? Do you feel like there’s a decision that will change the rest of your life? There’s always going to be a point in our lives when we’re going to have to make a sacrifice between several options, to move forward.

This post will deal with how to approach difficult decisions. Not in the sense where you’ll figure out exactly what to do, but rather a guiding tool to help you understand your situation better.

Better awareness, leads to better choices which ultimately leads to better result. So let’s try and enhance our self-awareness skill-set. I’ll dive into asking the right questions, starting with why, walking, then finding time to sit with your thoughts, praying & writing.

It’s like another collage of all my favourite topics. But again, reminders are extremely important, especially when you can use the concepts in every aspect of your life.

1-Ask the right questions

Questions are the answer. Every thought you have is a result of some question you’ve asked yourself. Once you realize the impact that has on you, you’ll be able to start asking yourself better questions.

I’ll give a few examples of what you can ask yourself in face of difficult decisions, but you should try and find what works best for you. Use them according to your own needs & circumstances.

  • Will this be in line with my values?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Will this help me serve others?
  • What do I feel passionate about?
  • If I were to die tomorrow, will this really matter?
  • What impact do I want to have on the world?

Ask those questions relative to the options you have & use the most relevant answers to guide you.

I know some of these questions are rather vague, but you shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer either way. It’s about giving yourself something to ponder over, and assisting your intuition to serve you.

2-Start with why

Another key aspect that directly relates to questions, ask yourself why you’re doing this. Find out the root cause of your indecision. Remember that the Golden Circle has 3 components, as introduced by Simon Sinek.

If both decisions are in line with your WHY, then you’ll have to do a lot more work. This would require some introspection and self-awareness. This comes in the form of meditation (or sitting in stillness) and journalling.

3-Go for a walk then sit in stillness

Walking as many of you may already know, is one of the healthiest habits to have. Not only does it serve as a mild form of exercise -which in itself has tremendous benefits- but it also does wonders for the brain.

Walking specifically helps you digest thoughts, get more creative, and deeply reflect. These mental benefits can’t be attributed to other forms of intense exercise (such as gyming or running), as those will distract your mind.

After giving yourself a topic to ponder over, go on a 15-20 minute walk (preferably in nature). When you’re back, find a safe space to sit in stillness. This would also be a lot better if you’re surrounded by nature.

Allow thoughts to come and go, without judgment or force. Focus on your breath initially, to immerse yourself in the present moment. Then allow yourself to reflect over the decisions you need to make.

You can also use your previous experiences to help you with the thought process. We’re feedback machines. We’re constantly learning from our mistake (hopefully), and using that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. So think of aspects in your life where you needed to make tough decisions and reflect on how it turned out.

4-Identify pros, cons and alternatives

Part of your introspection can include identifying the pros and cons in your decisions. Don’t dive too deeply into this, but use it to see if a certain decision would be far better than the others.

We often hold onto a tunnel vision and see things from one point of view. Look for alternatives (if possible) and try to identify other perspectives.

Asking people for advice can also work, but don’t rely too much on their opinion. Remember that it’s you who’ll have to live with the decision for the rest of your life (no pressure).

5-Pray, write & choose what feels right

Pray for guidance and constantly remember your purpose in life. We haven’t been created randomly. We’re here to each serve a cause greater than ourselves.

Time and time again, I bring up the notion of death. That’s because this life isn’t going to last forever. Don’t give decisions too much weight over you. There’s always room for learning and forgiveness.

Keep a tab of your thoughts by writing in a journal. This will allow you to easily notice patterns and aspects of your life that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It also gives you a bird’s eye point of view, seeing yourself from a completely different perspective.

At the end of the day, choose what feels right. The aforementioned tips will only serve as guide to help your intuition.

There’s no right or wrong. Life is full of lessons. Whatever you end up choosing, embrace it fully and live your best life. We can’t determine the outcome, but we can always choose our response. So choose optimism. Choose growth. Choose to learn.

Now is all we have, so let’s be thankful for that and strive to contribute to our best ability.

Self-actualization

I’ve been choosing topics from my Instagram followers and I think this one is super interesting. I’ll be speaking from my own understanding of what self-actualization is; finding a fulfilling way to live life.

The aspects that I’ll be considering are: Going inwards, understanding your environment and asking questions. I’d also like to emphasize how important contentment is (again), especially with regards to having a healthier outlook on life.

The reason I repeat topics are for it to serve as a reminder.

Going inwards (Reflection, introspection, journalling, meditating)

Being non-judgmental towards yourself and others. This is something we don’t pay enough attention to. We’re constantly in a state of judging. Whether we choose to be conscious of it or not. Our minds are quick at naming, blaming, comparing, and judging. Ourselves first and foremost.

Going inwards constitutes that we notice the thoughts that arise. No attachment, just awareness. Treat thoughts like clouds in the sky. They’re always different, always changing, and usually unpredictable. When we attach ourselves to thoughts or judge ourselves for the thoughts that we do have, we act as if the sky is in a permanent state.

But how untrue is that? Considering that change is inevitable, we should be kinder in dealing with our thoughts. Let’s look at a few ways to do just that.

-Meditating. The reason we should sit down and give ourselves space to let thoughts come and go, is to truly realize how impermanent they are. This would constitute setting a specific time every day (preferably early in the morning or just before you go to bed), to just let your mind wander. No attachment, just observation.

I like to think of it as going to the gym for your brain. You’re training your mind to be more present & to detach yourself from distractions.

Journalling. Oh hey, it’s this again! I honestly keep bringing this up because it has proven to be paramount in developing self-awareness. When you journal consistently, you gain insight on thought and behavioural patterns that you would otherwise just ignore.

Journalling provides a space for you to unwrap thoughts and ideas that are just floating around in your mind. It allows you to dump out unnecessary thoughts too, and clears up your mind. You also become very aware of trends in your life, that you can improve on or correct. I’d also recommend doing this either in the morning or before bed.

Consistency is the key to mastery. So make sure you try and implement both these habits on a regular basis, to truly reap their benefits.

Understanding your environment (Parents, friends, school)

Are we shaped by our circumstances? Are we able to change those circumstances? How much are we affected by our peers? How do we try to live up-to other people’s expectations of us?

Reasons reap benefits. Remember to keep asking your self important questions. This allows you to reflect quite easily on the person you’ve become. So let’s try and answer some of these questions, then dive into deeper ones.

A huge part of our psyche has been shaped in our childhood. This always fascinates me because that’s where we usually have the least control. Our parents, peers and environment largely shape the type of people we end up becoming.

We definitely do have inherent and innate talents, as well as some control in the way we deal with our circumstances. But they’re still influenced by the way we were brought up. Understanding yourself therefore requires unwrapping the parts of you that you never think of. The younger versions of yourself. The parts that you’ve evolved to ignore.

When we’re able to be vulnerable with ourselves, there’s no limit to how much we can learn. Just look at the past year. You’re nowhere near the same person you were at the end of 2018 (hopefully). Indulge in the lessons.

Constantly think back on what has worked for you. What hasn’t worked for you. Areas of your life that you want to improve. Areas of your life that have already improved.

More Questions

  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How can I contribute?
  • How long will I be here for?
  • What happens next?

Start your day by refreshing your intentions. Ask yourself important questions. Think clearly of your vision. If you don’t have one yet, work towards it.

Now (Is all there is)

How can we use the present moment to extract valuable lessons from the past, to make wiser decisions in the future?

By being conscious of where you are now. By realizing that there is no way back, time only moves forward. By understanding that there is no such thing as failure or defeat, only lessons to be learnt.

By being vulnerable. Stop holding yourself back based on what other people are going to think. Have the courage to be yourself. Fully immerse yourself in the present moment by being vulnerable with those you love.

I spoke about how being vulnerable with yourself opens up doorways to learning. Being vulnerable with others opens up doorways for teaching.

Don’t fear failure. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t fear being laughed at. You are meant to live your best life, and achieve your full potential. Whatever that means to you. Take the leap of faith. Chase your dreams. Follow what ignites the flame within.

It must be acknowledged that self-actualization is something achieved through privilege. Only once your physiological and safety needs are met, can you truly start to climb the ladder. It’s crucial therefore, to be grateful if you’re able to start developing a feeling of belonging and high self-esteem.

To wrap things up, I just want to talk a little about gratitude. If you’re reading this, it means you’re probably high up in the hierarchy of needs. This is something to be extremely grateful for. There are so many other people who can’t achieve their dreams or pursue their passions, purely because of their socio-economic status.

Being thankful is the least we can do, alongside helping other people, to truly find contentment in life. I’m going to end by bringing up this wonderful quote again, because it’s imperative to this topic.

“You find yourself, when you lose yourself in the service of others.”