SIX STRATEGIES FOR MAKING GOOD DECISIONS IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Even the most thorough planner among us will sometimes be caught off-guard by life circumstances we simply could not foresee. When this happens, we often find ourselves at the crossroads of a major life transition, and it can be both challenging and stressful to determine the best path forward.
Rather than making a snap decision that is likely to be ineffective or problematic in the long-run, it’s best to pause and reflect on our families, our careers and our money. The strategies offered below provide recommendations for doing just that so that we can arrive at decisions that balance all of the most important variables in our lives.
Strategy #1: Open Discussion
Sometimes, the harder a decision is, the more difficult it can be to put it into words and share it with a spouse or significant other. Inevitably, though, hiding a problem or avoiding addressing it will only allow it to fester. If you’re truly at a crossroads, talk openly and honestly with your special person so that you can get their perspective. Oftentimes, the simple act of saying something out loud will help to provide clarity in difficult circumstances and ensure you’re both on the same page before proceeding.
Strategy #2: Consideration of Values
In stressful situations, we aren’t always thinking clearly, which can lead to decisions that don’t truly serve what’s most important to us. If you’re leaning toward a particular decision, ask yourself whether you would be able to look yourself in the mirror after making it. If not, chances are that the decision isn’t aligned with your values. Use this “reflection test” to ensure you’re moving forward in a values-based way; even if this forces you to make a more difficult decision in the short-term, it will serve you better in the long-run.
Strategy #3: Asking Why
It’s not unusual to have a gut reaction to a difficult decision-making scenario, but you may not be able to articulate why you’re being pulled in one direction over another. In order to better understand your own reasoning, ask yourself a simple question: Why?
Here’s an example:
Why do you want to purchase a larger home?
Because we need a bigger yard.
Why do you need a bigger yard?
Because we want to put in a pool.
Why do you need a pool?
Because our family needs a way to spend more time together.
So, now you’ve gotten to the root of it: moving isn’t about a true need for a larger home, it’s about feeling a lack of family connection. Knowing this deeper motivation, you can move forward in decision-making with your true objective in mind.
Strategy #4: Think Outside Yourself
It’s easy for us to become consumed with what a particular decision would mean in our own lives, but it’s beneficial to think outwardly. Consider your spouse and your children, your friends and neighbors and your coworkers. They may all be affected by your decision, possibly negatively. As you consider your circumstances, think about whether you could be unwittingly damaging relationships that are important to you. If so, you will have to assess whether that potential damage is worth it.
Strategy #5: Examine Your Past
As human beings, our reactions to major life decisions are always going to be influenced by our past experiences. The thing is, this isn’t always beneficial. For instance, if you have the opportunity to take a new job that you are passionate about but which feels a bit risky, you may be influenced by having watched your parents toil away in “safe” jobs that put food on the table but left them unfulfilled. Understanding the lens through which you are viewing your decision helps you know whether “going with your gut” truly makes sense for you, or whether you are simply modeling someone else’s behavior.
Strategy #6: Seek Out Professional Advice
Many of us struggle with asking for help, and doing so can put us way outside our comfort zones. However, seeking out the counsel of someone with the expertise you don’t possess just makes good sense when you’re embroiled in a difficult decision. Put your pride and embarrassment aside, and reach out to an attorney, physician, therapist or financial expert for help as needed.
If you’re facing one of life’s many curveballs and it places you at a crossroads that involves your life and your money, please don’t hesitate to reach out today. Opening up a discussion now means you can make the best possible decision for you and your family over the long-term.