Our lives are filled with moments where we are asked to make a decision. Some are small, such as deciding if we should order coffee with our breakfast. Others are bigger, such as deciding if we should accept a new job offer or putting in an offer on a house. Just because every decision does not affect our lives to the same extent does not inherently make it easier to make some decisions compared to others.
When you find yourself stuck and faced with indecision, ask yourself “will I regret not doing this?”
Other questions to ask yourself
Asking yourself about regret is a good place to start, but if you’re still feeling stuck and you’re not sure why or how to work through it, below are a few additional questions you can ask yourself.
What is stopping me from wanting to do this?
Looking at what is holding you back can help you see what barriers are real and what are perceived.
Is this something I want to do or is it something I think that I should want to do?
This can help differentiate things that you truly want to do and things that you feel society wants you to do.
Will this add value to my life?
Each person has their own definition of value within their life, this is something you will need to decide for yours. Value comes in many forms. Think of the value not just in what you will learn or how it may help you grow, but also the memories you will make and the enjoyment you will have. Taking a course that teaches you about a new subject can add value to your life, but so can taking a tour of an ice cream facility that allows you to relax and have fun.
How would my life change by doing this?
It can help you decide if you should do something when you think about how it will change you. Maybe it will open up new possibilities or help you expand your comfort zone. But even if it is not clear how or if something will change your life doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Listen to your gut
When you ask yourself if you will regret not doing something and you feel yourself pulled in one direction, listen to your gut. We know ourselves better than we think we do and should listen when our body is trying to tell us something. Have a gut reaction doesn’t automatically mean you need to go with it, but it is worth looking into why you feel that way.
Not every situation will have a clear answer
It would be great if we could ask ourselves a few questions and know right then and there if this is something we should do, but it won’t always happen that way. Life would be simpler if it were black and white but it would be so much less interesting.
When you ask yourself if you will regret not doing something and you don’t feel strongly one way or the other, it could be an indication that it’s not that important to you. Deciding between cranberry juice or grapefruit juice at brunch may feel like a hard decision, but the reality may be it feels hard because it doesn’t really matter to you.
It’s a good thing that not every choice we have to make will have a dramatic impact on our lives, that would be an exhausting way to live. Don’s spend much time on decisions that you don’t feel strongly about. It is worth saving your mental energy for those decisions when you feel a pull towards doing something.
If it’s a strong no
Allow yourself to let it go for now. It doesn’t have to mean that you remove the possibility of ever doing it, it just means there may be better uses of your time right now. It can be hard to say no to a choice, it can feel as though we are closing the door on that opportunity. If that is the case, ask yourself:
Do I not want the door to close on this particular opportunity, or is it just the idea of a door closing on an opportunity?
Do I feel outside pressure to say yes?
Do I feel I am disappointing someone by saying no?
Will I have an opportunity like this in the future?
If you feel in your heart a strong no, but something is still holding you back, work to get to the root of why that is. So much is ingrained in our thoughts, from societal pressures to how we were raised. It is not always easy to get at what we truly want versus what we have been lead to believe we want.
You can always keep track of the choice you had and the decision you made. Write down what it was, when, and why you decided not to pursue it. This way you won’t forget it and if it comes up again you can look back at why you didn’t do it before. When you look at it in the future you will be a different person and you may end up making a different choice.
If it’s a strong yes
Allow yourself to take a chance and try something new or different. If something is pulling you in the direction of wanting to seize an opportunity, open yourself up to the possibility. If you feel a strong pull towards yes, but still feel some reservations, ask yourself
What additional information do I need to feel comfortable making a decision?
Do I feel societal pressure to not do this?
Am I worried how my decisions will affect someone else?
Will I have an opportunity like this in the future?
A strong yes from your gut doesn’t mean you have to do it, but it shows there is something about it that appeals to you. We can feel a pull towards doing something even if it doesn’t fit into our lives right now. Being realistic about your ability to do something at a particular time in your life is important.
Many of the choices we are faced with throughout our lives do not have a lasting impact, though at the time it may feel that they do. Taking the time to determine how a decision will affect your life and how important it is to you can help put things in perspective. Some decisions are worthy of our time while others are less so.
It’s important to also remember that most choices in our life are not things we need to decide on right away. You may feel that you need to make a quick decision, but don’t rush into something if you don’t have to. Take the time to make a plan to move forward with your decision.