Take a moment, and try to think about all the choices you made today. For example, what time did you get out of bed? Did you check your phone right away, or did you jump in the shower first? What outfit did you decide to wear?
Keep going. What music did you listen to as you commuted to work? What meal did you order for lunch, and how much did you decide to eat? And did you call your mom or make your bed or reschedule that dentist appointment?
When will you go to sleep tonight? What will you do before then? Watch TV, work out, or go to a recovery meeting? All of the above?
We make countless decisions during each moment, and many of them are subconscious. But within those 35,000 or so choices we must make each day, some of them certainly carry significant weight. And making the wrong decision can result in catastrophic consequences.
You're not alone if you frequently feel flustered by all the options. But you can take some proactive steps to improve your decision-making skills. Let's get to it.
Assess Your Priorities
So much of your decision-making skills comes down to truly knowing yourself. If you feel anchored by your values, you tend to have a moral compass for how you want to conduct yourself and live life.
But the opposite is also true. If you're used to people-pleasing, or if you don't have any real sense of identity, your ability to make good choices will be stunted.
Try to lean into your values when faced with a difficult decision. For example, if your recovery is the top priority in your life, honoring it will come before anything else.
You probably won't want to go to a party where alcohol might be present. You probably won't accept a high-stress job that cuts into your usual sobriety routine. You probably will commit to engaging in self-care strategies that help you feel confident and mindful.
So, the next time you feel torn with a particular option, ask yourself this: will pursuing this option help or harm me in living congruently with my life vision? Even if you don't have a definitive yes or no answer, you will probably have some sense about what to do next.
Stick With What's Working Well
Confident, well-rounded people don't scrutinize every choice they make. That would be downright exhausting. It also wouldn't be very effective, as decision fatigue can easily consume our mental energy.
Instead of trying to optimize everything, commit to what's already working well. For example, if you feel connected with your therapist and feel challenged in your sessions, it might not be necessary to evaluate if that therapist is the absolute best one for you. Or, if you know you like your apartment, it may not make sense to see if you can score a better deal somewhere else.
This strategy frees up your time to focus on things that require improvement or change. So, if you desperately need a new job, you can prioritize that decision rather than worrying about things that are already benefiting you.
Ask the Right People
It can be constructive to run decisions by supportive, encouraging people. Of course, nobody should tell you how to live your life. But your loved ones have your best interest at heart. Ideally, they can offer you guidance and the occasional tough love when needed.
When asking for support, provide all the options and facts. Then, review what you're most likely to do with them, and see how they respond. If they disagree with your intention, but they genuinely care about you, they won't be afraid to offer you alternative perspectives.
You don't need to make serious decisions right away. In fact, doing so can backfire, as you might be more impulsive when you feel stressed or uncertain.
But it's a good idea to keep yourself on track by creating self-imposed time limits. In some cases, doing nothing has serious consequences. So, having these limits help you organize your priorities and commit to taking action.
The deadline should be reasonable enough to explore your options and outweigh how they might each impact you. However, it shouldn't be so far in the future that you make endless excuses to procrasinate.
Commit Without Turning Back
Try to resist "looking back" to review other options after choosing. Embracing this mindset might be challenging, especially if you have controlling or perfectionistic tendencies. But it's crucial when it comes to optimizing your mental health.
It isn't helpful to ruminate over what you could have done. Instead, it's better to reframe that you made the best decision given your resources and capacity.
You might try something new in the future. But for right now, you can permit yourself to accept your reality- even if it isn't optimal.
Optimizing your decision-making skills can help you be more efficient and intentional with your life. At the same time, it can seriously cut down on the time you spend evaluating various options.
Successful recovery entails making excellent choices. We are here to help and support you through this process. Contact us today to learn more!