Previously I have posted an article about when we should avoid making important life decisions. If you have not read it, then check this out:
As I promised there, I am writing a follow-up article on “how” to make good decisions in life. It is going to be a long post, so bear with me. These are the 7 vital steps to make good decisions in life:
1. Know what you want in your life:
Some people find it really difficult to figure out exactly what they want in life. Everyone should have an underlying constitution in their life. What do I mean by that? The Constitution does not change very often with every small change. So your personal values should not change with every step that you take in your life.
For example, let us think about career options. Well, what kind of person are you? What really hooks you when you think about career planning? Is it money, fame, honor, wisdom or is it power? Do not do something because the rest of society is doing it or your family and peers want you to do it.
2. Do your own research:
It is important to be resourceful and informative before making a decision. This is related to the previous point. My mother says, “In order to know what you don’t know, you must know something.” It is important to ask the right questions. How do you start asking the right questions? By knowing your available options and gathering information about those options. Evaluate the pros and cons of a decision.
For example, I frequently answer this type of question on Quora. People ask questions like what are the minimum requirements of a certain university in a certain department? The real answer is, it should already be listed on that university’s official website. That is where doing your own research and gathering basic information comes into play. Now suppose you are deciding your options of attending colleges and you have already been selected into a handful of them. Now how do you make the final decision? In no particular order, the aspects would be major/field, educational value, the rank of the school, ROI (return of investments i.e the current prospects of alumni), cost of attendance and cost of living in the area, weather, vibe and atmosphere of the campus, professors rating, etc. Note that you have to re-arrange these options based on your priority and you also need to physically tour the campus to make your decision.
3.Seek an expert’s opinion/help:
It is more like seeking experts and experienced people’s opinions, but at the end of the day make your own decision. Whether it is about education or renting/buying a house, or starting a new career (I have found from my personal experience that) sometimes there are options available beyond what people think they know. Everyone’s advice is somewhat subjective based on their own experience or personal hidden motives but still, it is important to ask the same question to many people around to get different perspectives and honest criticism. From my harsh personal experience, I have faced many discouragements and many rejections, and sometimes heavy criticism from people including closed ones. Whether it was about moving to a new place or applying to a more competitive university or a job- I heard a lot of “no”s because people thought I simply did not have what it takes. That is when my own resourcefulness came in handy. I still kept trying via different options and finally got what I wanted.
Another thing I have learned, just because someone thinks they are the expert or spent some time in a given career field, does not necessarily mean they can correctly predict everything about a new career option. Which means sometimes there are just no experts and you become your own expert. Have you ever read the monkey’s story? Sometimes people also discourage because they think you cannot do it, as they have never done it or they just don’t want you to do it. So if you are pursuing something very ambitious, keep your ultimate goal to yourself, while you still seek advice from different people. Take advice but do not get persuaded by one-sided strong opinions.
4. Think rationally but do not over-analyze situations:
While it is important to think rationally and seek different views from people, there are certain things in life we tend to make worse, when we over-analyze. Especially when it comes to selecting a partner for a long-term relationship. Trust your instinct or gut feeling. If you have doubts about a certain person, chances are there is something wrong. Our intuition is a gift to us, so it is better to use it when it is required. It is important to listen effectively, observe people and situation analytically. We have to use a balance of rationality and intuition in most cases. There is nothing wrong with being emotional but it needs to be in check.
5. Take action:
Now that you have researched all your options, asked for advice, thought about critically using your best judgment, narrowed down to your final decision about what you want in your life-finally it is time to simply just do it. This is the hardest part for many of us. With the advent of the internet and so many online resources, we sometimes spend a lot of time trying to find a solution but somehow still put the final action on hold. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are doing it as well.
For example, I have spent some time thinking about blogging. Like many of you, I searched many online posts about how to blog, top topics to blog, how to make money by blogging…blah blah, etc. Finally, I thought, isn’t it enough that I love to write as a hobby? And should I just do it for the pure fun of writing and sharing my thoughts? Then I started doing it. Once you start on something, it gets easier to continue even after some initial trials and errors.
6. Be positive, patient and persistent:
Everyone wants to see the result quickly. I was talking about blogging in the previous point. But it’s not just blogging; anything, almost anything good in life, takes time to prosper and grow. Nothing happens overnight. It is really hard to be positive and patient while you are going through a lot in life and want to see the immediate results. Persistence is a whole new level of skill which transforms an ordinary newbie into a successful expert in the field. I have seen many intelligent people lack this skill, which reminds me that persistence is more important than talent or intelligence to succeed in life.
For example, suppose you are looking for a job in your career and have sent hundreds and thousands of applications. You are unemployed or under-employed for a long time. It is hard for you to smile with positivity and act like you are fine while deep down you are feeling the burning of financial stress every moment. No matter how hard the battle gets, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep tweaking your process. If you are sending so many applications and receiving no interview calls, chances are, you are desperately trying almost anything and not what you are really good at. Narrow down your job search based on your field of specialization and your area of interest. Do not send the same generic resume/CV everywhere. People talk about networking so much these days. What is it really? It is about finding the right-minded people in your career who will guide and champion you to your next career destination. Find those people and keep sharing your goals and ideas with them. I personally got into places just by having a conversation about my ideas.
7. Accept the failure and keep moving on:
Did I mention trial and error in one of my previous points? One of the biggest tests of patience is accepting failure and keep going. The reason why we spend so much time seeking answers and not taking action is that we fear failure. Learn from yours and others’ mistakes, make the changes you need to make in your approach and no matter what happens, keep moving on. Never change your goal but be ready to change your methods to reach it. Never stop. You never know how close you are to your destination. I have seen many people giving up when they were very close to reaching their goals. Remember, the final few steps are always harder.
Note that numbers 5, 6 & 7 are part of being a farm in the decision.
Thanks for reading.