5 Steps for Making Tough Decisions

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decisionsWe’re in the process of making some really big decisions. They may not be big for you, but they are REALLY big for us.

Isn’t it interesting that a decision is only BIG if you ask someone that cares about it? Doesn’t it seem much less significant if it’s not happening to you?

This is what powerful decision making is all about – seeing it from another perspective. Some people actually go around asking all of their friends for their advice, but there is a way to get an outside perspective without having to ask anyone.

1. What are you afraid of? Are you bold enough to face your fear?

Are you trying to create something, or are you trying to prevent something? Decisions for prevention are often much more negatively charged. Brushing your teeth to prevent cavities is a guilt trip. Brushing your teeth to create a beautiful smile is inspiring! Cutting off someone who bothers you is generally based on fear. Holding yourself responsible to see (and have compassion for) the negative qualities in others is quite courageous. It takes a bold individual to transform a broken relationship into an honest understanding (which never leaves a sour taste in anyone’s mouth).

Fear of failure is a majorly common obstacle in making decisions. What would you do if you couldn’t fail? Who would you be if you didn’t have that thought?

If you can admit to yourself what you’re afraid of, and wait out the big decision making until that’s no longer a factor, you’ll almost surely be more successful in the end.

2. Is this a decision you’ll be proud of 10 years from now?

Your initial reaction may be rash. The voice in your head may be operating in a fight or flight mode. It may be saying “Quit that job!” or “Move out of that house!” or “Delete that person from your phone list!”. Basically, if it ends in an exclamation point than it’s probably got a lot of charge behind it.

3. What does healthy waiting look like?

So, you’ve decided to wait until you’re in a better place to make a big decision. Great news! Now, depending on how you wait, this may take 5 minutes or 5 years. So what’s the best way to wait? Breathe! Breathe deeply. Inhale into your belly. Feel your emotions. Go do something fun. Reconnect with an old friend. Better yet, end an old feud! Volunteer somewhere. Go on vacation. Play a game. Get some movement in your body!

4. Do you trust yourself to make decisions without seeking approval?

Most people have some lack of self-trust. This creates repeated hesitation, confusion, and delay. On top of that, it can be extremely annoying to create delay – and then it creates less trust in oneself, and the compounded cycle happens all over again!

One of the main reasons for losing trust in ourselves is because we often betray our own wants and needs in the process of seeking approval from others. By seeking approval, rather than focusing on that which we are authentically drawn toward, there is a back and forth of all of our mental, bodily, and physical resources. By simply watching the ways in which we are being dishonest with ourselves and each other, we can make more sustainable decisions. When we are unconsciously in search of impressing people (consider the word impress: “to make a mark using a stamp”), we are creating a false image of ourselves. How can we ever be happy with our decisions if this false image is the goal?

5. What are the possible results you could create?

Now that we’ve got the fear out of the way, what is the most ideal outcome? In desperation, it may seem that the most ideal outcome is just barely squeaking by. If it were somebody else’s big decision, however, it’s likely that you’d see a much grander life available to them than they can imagine for themselves. Some say to pretend that you are advising a friend when making a big decision. Personally, I like to take it a step further and actually write a story about the ideal turnout. What over-the-top frills can I add to make the character in the story simply burst with joy? What gifts can I give the character in the story, that they would never have expected to receive in a million years?

For example – If you are thinking of quitting your job and you’ve already gone through step #1 above, you’re now moving your focus from preventing further pain to actually creating something wonderful. When you look for the fear which must be faced, it may turn out that this could be your big opportunity to make some major changes to your current position. It’s at least a great opportunity to go out with a bang by presenting your employer with an opportunity to keep you by clearly stating your needs!


As we become more honest with ourselves, our “tough” decision making process essentially dissolves into  a natural extension of our everyday actions. It becomes much less of an emotional process, even when the stakes are high and the impact is big. When we’re no longer judging ourselves for our past, we are free to create our future!

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Joshua Falcon-Grey

Co-Founder/Program Director and Creativity Leadership Trainer at True Participation
Joshua is a filmmaker and artist creating new ways in which story and technology can be combined toward healing experiences for a better world. He enjoys public/comedic speaking as well as providing personal, business branding, and relationship coaching. More info can be found on his personal site.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Erik Burns Johansson

    Great article! Really appreciate the insight about the power of tapping in to self in order to guide decision making. I often find it easier to ask for guidance from others and do agree this can often be a strategy to avoid responsibility for making a mistake. Life is a journey meant to be explored. Thank you!

    • Joshua

      Thank you so much for your comment, Erik! I’m so glad this was beneficial for you 🙂

  • JoJo

    I needed this right now. Can’t tell you how perfect the timing is. Thank you Joshua!

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