I haven't been the best decision-maker in my life. That's not to say that I make bad decisions (although I have made a few), but sometimes I get caught in "analysis paralysis," sometimes known as "decision-fatigue." If you're an over-thinker like me, you probably understand what I'm saying.
For example, when I just graduated with my Ph.D., I couldn't make a decision about my career. I had a job offer on the table, but it was only a one-year visiting professor position. And it was guaranteed. I also had another interview set up for a permanent position, which would have theoretically been better for me in the long run. But the catch was that I needed to give an answer to the job offer before I even went on the interview for the long-term position.
I was a wreck. On one hand, if I turned down the job offer, what if I didn't get the other job? Then I'd have NO job! But if I took the other job, what if I would have gotten the better job? It was like playing "Let's Make a Deal" where you knew what was behind one curtain, but not the other - and it could be better or worse.
So to help me with my decision, my dissertation advisor took me to lunch. She said, "Okay, heads you take the job, tails you turn it down and go for the interview." Then she flipped the coin and I freaked out. I was thinking, "Really?! THIS is how I'm going to make my decision - with my advisor flipping a coin?"
Well, what came of it was brilliant. You see, it doesn't matter what the coin lands on. What matters is how you FEEL about what it lands on. The whole point is to fool your logical mind into getting out of the way so your intuition can step in and tell you what you really want.
And here's another way you can make decisions. By the way, this one was invented by me, not my advisor!
Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment, that we don't look at the big picture. In other words, we don't look at how a decision will make us feel later in our lives. When you're trying to make a decision, ask yourself this: "At the end of my life, what would I regret doing (or not doing) the most?"
It's that simple.
I've been giving this a lot of thought lately, because I've had to make some pretty difficult decisions myself. And one thing that puts a microscope on using this decision-making process is that my mom is turning 80 one week from today. And while my sisters and I have been so caught up in party-planning, getting a big family photo transferred to canvas, and making a video of her life, I have had remind myself to step back and really appreciate what is happening. After all, it's not every day that your mom turns 80. It's a huge milestone.
One thing I can say about my mom is that I'm pretty sure she has almost no regrets in her life. And I think that that every decision she has ever made has turned out exactly as it should. That's not to say she hasn't had rough times in her life - we all have. But what I'm trying to say is that she lives her life from a place of truth - HER truth. And never apologizes for it.
And that's what she taught me along the way. While she never said to me specifically to ask myself what I would regret most at the end of my life, she definitely modeled it for me. She taught me not to listen to what other people say, or even weigh the facts too much. Instead, search deep in your heart and make your decision from what feels right - to YOU.
I hope these two decision-making tricks can help you as much as they've helped me in my life. I'm not saying it's always easy, but when you really dig deep to find your truth, you can never go wrong.