Decision Making without Regrets

There are decisions we all have to make every day. What shall I wear, eat, do today? Shall I apply for this job, stay where I am, ask for more money? Shall I pay this or that bill, move house, have kids, change course at Uni/College?

There’s little doubt that some decisions are easier to make than others. The point being, you make your choice and even if it turns out not to be the best decision you ever made, you know very well the potential consequences are “liveable” ones.

The difficulty comes however, when we’re faced with the BIGGIES. The really big decisions that have potentially far-reaching consequences?

  • Do we really want to move house?
  • Should I stay in this job or look for another?
  • What kind of career do I want to study for?
  • Should we start a family?
  • Should we remortgage?

Often, there are so many facets to these decisions we easily become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of possibilities and potential consequences. Our Inner Imps run around frantically pulling at their hair. Reasoning/Logic runs scenario after scenario passed Responsibility and Positive Thinking while Doubt typically purses his lips and shakes his head dubiously at every single one of them. When Courage or CANDo finally do vote for an idea, Fear is immediate at the ready with a slide projector showing graphic, bloody images of the worst case consequence scenarios.

So what do we do? Simply jump in with our fingers crossed?

No! We ask around for advice and receive even more possibilities/consequences to ruminate on. When we ask advice, we’re often seeking someone to make the decision for us and when specific instructions aren’t forthcoming, have a tendency chicken out and avoid making the decision entirely – it’s so much easier to simply stick our heads in the sand and continue with things as they are after all – even if we are in a XXXX big rut.

Generally, the whole process is very uncomfortable and best to be avoided, right?


Avoidance is not a great strategy when it comes to having a CANDo get-up and go-go kinda life. At some point you simply have to BELIEVE. Choose one thing and then simply believe in it.

When I’m faced with a BIGGIE in life, I’m not going to lie to you, I get mega nervous – scared is just such an inadequate word for my feelings. What I have done however, is learn a few CANDo steps that help me make the decisions I have to, even if they don’t wipe out the sleepless nights entirely.

Have a 3 and/or 5 Year Plan (a life one if you can manage it)

This is one of my Main Man’s pets and I have to say he quickly won me around to his way of thinking. If you have a long term plan about what you’re working towards in life, it will help you when it comes to deciding the BIGGIES whether they are to do with where you live, who you’re living with, your finances or career…

Writing this plan down will not only help you work towards it, it will also act as a guide/instruction manual when you’re faced with a big decision. Will this BIGGIE move you towards your goal or away from it?

Overtime, you’ll want to titivate your plan a bit to accommodate changing circumstances, desires and life’s inevitable little surprises, but generally speaking be true to your plan and you’ll be true to yourself and make the right decisions.

Inform Yourself

Consider your options and then really inform yourself. Fear and Doubt have a habit of blowing things out of all proportion and won’t hesitate to stoop so low as to lie to you if they can get away with it. Often times we worry about things because we make assumptions to fill in gaps in our factual knowledge.

Don’t assume anything.

Find out the facts and then work only with the facts. This is the extent of the risk you are taking. This is what would actually happen in the best/worst case scenario.

Consider the Advantages and Disadvantages

Write down a list of advantages and disadvantages for each scenario Reasoning/Logic come up with. Make sure Fear’s slides of gruesome consequences are on one side, but that the more palatable, advantageous consequences are also a part of the slide show.

Once you’ve done this, ask yourself if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and whether the risks/consequences are liveable.

Come Up with a Plan B

It often helps to alleviate some of the discomfort involved in making big decisions if you can set up in your mind some kind of safety net. You can’t avoid stumbling altogether however, if you’re gravitating towards a decision, consider a Plan B. If the worst case scenario actually came to fruition, what options would you have open to you?

Get a Second Opinion

Bundle up your Inner Imp Courage and have him help you ask the opinion of anyone you know that’s faced a similar decision. Make them privy to your plans, show them your  ideas, facts, pros and cons and ask for an opinion. Often, someone that isn’t “close” to the decision is able to see things you may well have missed because they aren’t so emotionally involved.

Just remember, advice from friends and family should only ever be considered as a pick and mix list of options. You listen then pick and mix the bits that could work for you.

Flip a Coin

Maybe it’s a tad childish but once I’ve more or less made my decision, I like to either flip a coin or invoke some other magical force, e.g., if the phone rings in the next 10 minutes I should change my opinion. The idea behind this is that if I get the same answer as the decision I made, then a so-called “higher power” is ratifying my decision – divine intervention if you like. If I get an answer that goes against my opinion, I need my Inner Imp Honesty to focus on what I was “hoping” for because this is what my head and heart are telling me to do, rather than the influence my Inner Imps and emotions are having.

Go For It and BELIEVE

If you’ve got the facts, spoken to others, experienced “divine intervention” and made your decision – get-up and go-for-it. You’ve made you choice, now make the leap and BELIEVE it in.

We all make a million decisions in our lives that lead us down different paths. Follow the path you’ve chosen and just keep looking ahead to the future. There are no guarantees but you have an acceptable Plan B as a safety net and life was meant to be an adventure. Every path you travel will have something to offer if you have the courage to travel it.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to grab life’s big decisions by the short and curlies.

And as for regret? Try and delete it from your vocabulary because it’s such an unproductive emotion and there’ll be very little room left for regret to camp out in because your decisions will always be moving you towards your planned goals in life.

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One Response to Decision Making without Regrets

  1. Det Nilam November 27, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    1. Consider your options and then inform yourself
    2. made your decision and go-for-it
    3. Do believe in the outcome.

    …always worked for me.

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