For some people, making a decision is easy. They weigh up the situation, look at the alternatives and then they make a considered judgement after taking all relevant points into account. Such a decision might be to change jobs, choose a partner, rent a house, book a holiday or invest in a new iPhone.

However, for many others, the process can prove difficult and the decision long in coming because for these individuals, the risk of making a mistake can be frightening. If this applies to you, then you are not alone.

Of course, I am not saying that instant decisions are recommended or that one should not properly evaluate all the relevant factors before making a choice. One reason that making decisions can be difficult is when instead of drawing upon our own experience, and the experience of others, we try to decide either from just what we can hear or see, or from advice from unsubstantiated sources. Your friend tells you what they would do in any given situation and this might well work out for them but at the end of the day, they are not you and what did, or didn’t, work for them may not prove to be the same for you.

Let us look at Claire, one of my clients. Claire comes to see me because she is looking to change jobs and doesn’t know whether she should or shouldn’t make the break from the firm she has been with for the past five years. She is a marketing assistant, she likes the company and her colleagues. However, she doesn’t feel that the job ‘stretches’ her and a part of her would like to move.

But the other part is telling her that she should stay because changing jobs can be a leap into the unknown. Claire has been considering the pros and cons of moving and after discussing it with her family and friends, she finds she is more unsure now, than before. So, she finally came to consult me and find an answer.

Informed choice

The following are my hints on how to make an informed choice:

1. De-stress: Take your mind away from the actual decision you want to make. Go for a walk, meditate or just relax so that your mind can focus on something else.

2. Don’t rely on others: Certainly, talk through your situation with a trusted friend or family member but don’t expect them always to have the right answer. Their role is to help you think through your options. Some of your friends will be good listeners and others will always want to give their advice. Try to choose the good listeners who will facilitate your thinking, as in the end, this is your decision, not theirs.

3. Trust your gut feeling: This is a personal, intuitive feeling or response and even though it might not always be right, it does have an important role in our decision-making process.

4. Stop pushing: When you are continually pushing yourself, you are putting yourself under pressure and that, in turn, can become stressful — so stop pushing and let go.

5. Have confidence: In yourself and your ability. Frequently, we don’t make decisions because we may think that we might not get it right. But if everyone thought that way, the world would soon stop because decision-makers are essential to our society.

6. Take your time: Never rush into something without a cool look at it from ‘outside the box’.

7. Maintain focus: Focus on the outcome and what it will mean to you, your family and career prospects — not only in the short term but also in five years’ time and, possibly, for the rest of your life if the decision is a really important one such as getting married, moving abroad, changing careers or running for president!

If you still don’t know what to do, then pick one option and put all your energy and passion into it — in other words, give it everything you have because then, you will almost certainly succeed. Being pro-active means always being way ahead of those who can never make a decision of their own but just react to those of others.

Which would you rather be?