Regret is a happiness killer and that is why it is important to take time and make the effort to ponder and weigh all options so that you can choose wisely.
There are twelve things to consider when you are faced with making life decisions. The last thing you want is to feel regret for the decision you made, so how do you make the right or smart choice? Let me give you some tips on how to get through the decision-making process so that you end up with a decision that will help you live the rest of your life without regret.
12 Tips For Making Life Decisions Without Regrets
- Advise a friend or child – This one tip is often a sure fire way to make yourself honest. If your friend or child was faced with the same choice you are currently facing, what would you advise them to do? What would your reasoning be for one choice or the other? What would you say to try and sway them to a particular decision? How important is it that they choose one option over the other option? How passionate are you about them accepting your advice? How sure are you about the advice you are giving to your friend or child? Yeah, I know, it sure puts your decision making process brutally honest and center stage. We want the people we care about to have happy, fulfilling futures with as little pain as possible, so shouldn’t we want the same thing for ourselves?
- Compare the choice to your past choices – Do you keep making the same type of choice and each time you regret it? Do you see a pattern in your choices? If you see a pattern, try doing the complete opposite of what you have always chosen. Seriously, if you keep making the same mistake over and over again, the OTHER way can’t be a mistake. It may feel uncomfortable, cause stress and make you anxious, but do it anyway. If you choose the same thing you’ve always chosen, well you know the saying…
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So are you insane?
- Pros and cons – Pull out a piece of paper or in my case, create a spreadsheet of all the pros and cons of your choices. Be very detailed with each pro or con that you list. Give yourself space to analyze each one based on all the criteria listed in this post. It is very important that you actually write it down instead of just keeping it in your head. The written word is powerful and when your mind reads it over and over again, you will be able to truly feel and see the impact of your choice.
- Ask other people – Not only can you get the advice of family and friends about your choices, but you can ask total strangers. People are often quite ready to give you their opinion when asked. Ask people from a wide selection of backgrounds and beliefs. Present your choices to people at school, church, work, your doctor, therapist, neighbors, etc. It isn’t that hard to ask strangers if you pretend that you are getting advice for your friend, sister, brother or child. Share with them what your thoughts are and have a great discussion.
- Why? – By collecting information about all the choices, keep gathering details on all the choices until you figure out why it is smarter or better to choose one option over another. The fact that you have to make a choice is obvious, but the reason one choice is better is very unclear. An example of this type of dilemma would be something like: You are currently unemployed and two different companies offer you a job paying the same salary. Great, but why would it be better to work for one company instead of the other one?
You might even need to decide the reason you feel the need to make a choice at all. An example of this type of decision could be something like: You are currently employed at a great company making a wonderful salary, BUT you think you should look for another job. Alright, fine, but why do you feel the need to look for another job?
By analyzing all the gathered information from the pros and cons, most of the time you can answer why one choice is better than the other choice. This is not ALWAYS the case because sometimes there are also emotions to take into account in this decision making process. For example, who should you marry or should I move to the other side of the country away from all my friends and family? Can you see how emotions play a part in those two decisions? It is possible to love more than one person at the same time and it is also possible to want to live in two place simultaneously. I know this is true because I’ve experienced both scenarios. Actually, right now I want to live in Virginia with my family, but I also want to move to the snowy mountains or to a beautiful beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
- See the future – Imagine how life will be if you make Choice A, Choice B, etc. Take the choices all the way to the very end when you eventually die. No, I’m not being morbid. I’m just being very factual and logical. I know that might seem either tedious, ridiculous, crazy, aggravating or stupid to you, but by going through the answer all the way into the future until death, I find a bit of peace. It also puts life into perspective. How important is the decision that you are wrangling with and how much happiness will you be missing out on if you follow through with one of the choices?
- Be intellectual and emotional – First, take the emotion out of the choice and then throw the emotion back into the choice. What is the logic? Will one choice provide a more solid future financially and physically? Will one choice be better for your health? What is your gut reaction? What is the inner voice whispering to you? Do you instinctively feel one way or the other?
Let me give you an example. You are trying to choose which person to marry. One man has a great job, terrible temper, doesn’t want any children, loves your music and his family can’t stand you. The other man has a low paying job, easy going, wants children, hates your music and his family loves you. You love both men. What are you going to choose? If you want children more than anything in the world, the first man isn’t going to fulfill your greatest desire. Is that a deal breaker? If you are a concert pianist and the second man hates your music, is that a deal breaker? Only you can answer those questions.
By analyzing your choices both intellectually and emotionally, you will be able to reach a decision that will make you the happiest throughout the rest of your life. Whatever choice you make, don’t base it on just one thing. You may feel great passion and love for both men, but a future with a man that screams at you all the time in comparison to someone who treats you with respect and cherishes you seems like an easy choice. A man who will support you and be your cheerleader in your life’s goal of becoming a concert pianist and gets lost in the lovely sounds of you performing beautiful music compared to a man that never listens to you play or doesn’t want to talk about it, once again seems like an easy choice. The wild, crazy passion of a new love relationship eventually dissipates and what you have left is the cold, hard facts.
I know this takes the fairy tale out of the choice of marriage, but there would be far less divorce if people broke it down logically instead of hiding their heads in the Cinderella cloud. People are people and everyone is different. You won’t find someone perfect, but you can find someone who helps you improve and can build a very happy life with you.
- Go back – Can the choice be reversed? Can you undo whatever you’re about to choose? If so, the choice is not as dramatic as life or death. It may be costly, aggravating or even a lot of extra work, but if you can undo it, then the pressure of making a poor choice is not so devastating. An example of this would be choosing to move to the snowy mountains instead of the beautiful beach. If you get snowed in for three months the first winter and find that you go stark raving mad trapped in the house with snow, then you can go back on your choice. It may be costly, aggravating and a lot of extra work, to sell your mountain home and find another home on the beach, but it is possible. This is the kind of decision that isn’t so permanent or totally life altering because you can always go back.
- Remain calm – Erratic and spastic behavior tends to lead to poor choices. Those are the choices that are made without much thought to the future or consequences which usually lead to regrets. The secret to gathering your thoughts, analyzing them and making smarter choices is to remain calm so that you can focus and hear yourself.
- Publicly – If you don’t mind that your choice is going to be reported on the evening news or if the pain you will cause someone else is better for everyone in the long run, then you can take a certain amount of pride in your decision. Feeling good enough about your decision to share it with other people is a good sign that you are making the smarter choice. Choosing the higher road is not always easy, but in the end there is a whole lot less regrets.
- Peace and tranquility – When you make a decision that leaves you feeling peaceful and tranquil, you will find that you are able to sleep better. You won’t be in the bed with your eyes fixed on the ceiling and your mind racing with thoughts and voices that drive you crazy. Peace is priceless and so is sleeping soundly each night. Turmoil, stress and regrets can eat your soul quite literally to death.
- Plan for a mistake – Even after being careful with your choices, it is inevitable that sometimes you will make a mistake. If this happens and you find that the choice you made is causing you or will eventually cause you supreme unhappiness, be sure to have a plan of escape or alternative plan. A great example of this would be if you decided to buy the two story house instead of the rancher. After you moved into the two story home, you discovered that stairs were your worst enemy. The rancher has already been sold to someone else, so you can’t go back to that option. If you move out of the brand new home, you may lose money, but then again you may not. Your plan of escape or alternative plan could be that if this scenario happens, you will move into an apartment until you find another home that better suits your needs. Didn’t that automatically bring you a little bit of peace?
It sounds like a lot of work because it is a lot of work to make good decisions that lead to happiness instead of regret, but it is well worth the effort.
A regret free life…
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?