How to decide to make a change

February 19, 2023

Are you ruminating on a decision that you want to make?


We are all susceptible to getting stuck with the process of making a decision, especially one that will create significant changes in our lives.


We can often stay in the “will I or won’t I” loop and feel like there is no clear answer. This is when we become inert, start to feel confused or disillusioned. And we end up doing nothing.


It’s a very human thing to do this. Our brains are designed fundamentally to keep us alive. This means that if the status quo is not threatening, then the desire to move forward and make change is generally avoided or resisted on some level.


So, how do we overcome this human “programming” and move forward with clear decisions for change and growth?


We need to learn about the change process and utilise tools that help you to make decisions and take action.


How do you currently make a big decision?
Do you have a specific process?
Do you have deadlines for decisions?

What tools do you use?


I think for most of us, we use what has worked in the past, to make big decisions. But every now again we face a tricky decision that requires something new. In this post series about How to decide to make a change (this is part 1), I will share with you decision-making tools that will help you to create more clarity and take action to move forward.


Decision-making Tool 1: Your Values

We each have our own set of values, the things that are most important to us. When we are making a big decision, we can use these values to help us through the decision-making process.


For example: Imagine one of your biggest values is ‘health’ – living a healthy lifestyle, looking after your body and managing your stress levels. When making a decision to move forward (in any life domain), we ask ourselves: Will this decision align with my value of ‘health’? Will it move me closer to, or further away from this value? In the medium to long term, will there be an adverse effect on my ‘health’?


You can ask these questions with every value that you have. Your personal values might be learning, family, financial independence, autonomy, connection to others, achievement, helpfulness…and so on. If you are clear about your personal values, you can use them to guide you forward.


Values help you make decisions that will be fulfilling (and that will “feel right”). As you move in alignment with your values, you create a life that is both rewarding and satisfying.


Decision-making tool 2: Look for assumptions

One of the major reasons we get stuck on making a decision is because we make assumptions that things are ‘black and white’. We don’t see the ‘grey’ option.


The ‘grey’ option is simply somewhere in between the black and white options you’re giving yourself.


For example, if you’re deciding to start a business, yes, there is the option to jump in or not. There is also another option to start it while keeping another source of income going, or while being committed to other responsibilities.


For some decisions, walking away from the “all or nothing” thinking, can open up new options we’ve never considered before.


If the option is in the middle (‘grey option’), it can also feel less risky and this may allow us to move forward with smaller steps to try something new out.


Decision-making tool 3: There is no ‘right time’

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m not sure if it’s the right time to do this”?


I have heard this a few times. If you’re a salesperson, you’ve heard it more than most. And you probably understand too, that there is no real ‘right time’!


I think this ‘right time’ is based on the idea that if you were to move forward with a big decision, then it would be clear, you would feel different somehow. You would feel that it is the right time.


Sure, we do have moments of feeling like we’re moving in the right direction and timing is good. But for a lot of the journey, it also doesn’t feel so right. It also doesn’t feel wrong. You see what I’m saying here?


Sure, we must always consider the context of our lives if we are making a big decision. Some times are less optimal than others. However, waiting for the ‘right time’ will keep you inert and feeling powerless.


Decision-making tool 4: Best and worst-case scenarios

You may already be familiar with using the worst-case scenario. This is helpful to weigh up what we perceive as risk. We ask ourselves: “What is the worst thing that can happen? Then we assess how bad we think that outcome would be.


What we often don’t do is ask what the best-case scenario might be: “What is the best thing that can happen?”


Asking this question helps us to understand that there is not just an upside,  rather, there is perhaps equal chance of you getting a positive outcome!


When we ask ourselves about the best positive outcome, it levels out our thinking, moving us away from the tendency to assume the worst. (Again, this is our human brain wiring and it does lean towards the worst.)


 It think asking yourself about the best-case scenario also relates to risk. 
 It’s the risk of leaving an opportunity on the table.
 We need to weigh both, when we make a decision.

The Solo Startup Coach acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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