Skip to content

Make difficult life decisions by separating the emotional phase from the execution phase

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
how to make a difficult life decision
Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo / Unsplash

This comes from a woman whose job is helping people who are on the fence about whether to have kids. That was an easy decision for me, but there’s lots of other life choices that haven’t been as clear-cut, and this description of mental gridlock really rang true for me:

The main reason they feel stuck, no matter their circumstance, is because they’re trying to figure out what they want (their heart’s desire about parenthood) and what they’re going to do about it (make a decision) at the same time. The result is gridlock in your mind, and you cannot think your way out.

How can you possibly figure out what you truly want when so much weight and consequence rests on either side? The traffic jam of: “if x, then y — so I can’t do x, but if I do a that leads to b, which leads to c, so I might as well do x anyway, but I can’t do x because y…”

The most efficient way to make a decision is to actually put that decision-making pressure aside temporarily and focus only on your desire. Can you imagine an oasis where fear, judgment, and shame don’t exist? Where it’s not even considered? What if there is a place where there is no right or wrong, good or bad answer? Sound nice? I believe one needs to have their own private, uncensored process in that kind of environment to find out what they want.

Basically, her advice is to completely separate the two processes. First, figure out what you want. Second, figure out what you’re going to do with that information. So you begin by deciding not to make a decision for, say, three months. (Maybe you have a decision you need to make sooner than that, so you can only give yourself a day. But do give yourself that day.)

She then has a list of practical steps to take to ease the decision from there — about two-thirds of the way down this page.

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #122 – subscribe to get the next issue in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


Sign in or become a Whippet subscriber (free or paid) to add your thoughts.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.