Sign next to deserted road with arrows pointing left and right

Whether it’s a new job, a relationship or even deciding what you’d like from the midweek Happy Hour menu, decision making can be difficult. According to scientists at Cornell University, adults make up to 35,000 remotely conscious decisions a day, depending on their level of responsibility.

It can often seem like there’s a lot at stake when making a decision, and because we’re bombarded with more choices than ever, it’s easy to become stuck in the process. Let’s take a look at why this is and how we can better-equip ourselves in making the “right” choice.

Difficult Decisions

For some people, deciding to take that big risk, either professionally or personally, is relatively straightforward, whereas others find even the most trivial choices hard-to-make. That’s not to say that even the most confident people don’t struggle occasionally. Big decisions are a part of life, and there’s often no way of telling what is right and wrong; we sometimes need to act on nothing other than gut instinct.

That being said, fear of the unknown can be overwhelming. Everyone goes through bouts of low-confidence, and taking that leap can feel like an impossibility at times; especially when you don’t fully trust your intuition. Our brains are hard-wired to sense danger, and because we are no longer hunter-gatherers running from wild animals, we respond to future situations – that might never happen – instead. If you suffer from anxiety, you’re probably an expert at creating the worst-case scenario, and this can cause problems when weighing up your options.

Making Changes

As Benjamin Disraeli once put it: “change is inevitable, change is constant”. Change is, therefore, part of human existence, and decision-making is an integral part of the process.

However, sometimes we’re not in the right frame-of-mind to make a decision, and it’s important to be kind to yourself in the process. For example, if you’re applying for university, your chosen institution depends on a variety of factors such as course, city, social life etc. It’s easy to become anxious as a result of over-thinking what’s best for you, so making that final commitment is perhaps a little too overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s best to stop thinking about it for a while and come back to it with a clearer mind.

If you have to decide on something that isn’t immediate, it’s fine to delay the decision for a later date. However, taking that risk often has a much bigger pay-off than staying inside your comfort zone; whether it works out or not. Life is neither immediate nor straightforward, and it’s important to enjoy the process while keeping your goals in mind.

After all, this is where real learning takes place.