Making Gut-Wrenching Decisions—Part 1: What Makes A Decision Difficult?

Have you ever considered just how many choices you make in your average day?

Think about it for a moment… Try to take a wild guess.

I think it’s safe to say that unless you just guessed somewhere in the tens of THOUSANDS, whatever number you may have come up with is likely pretty low compared to the reality of it.

In fact, some research has shown that the average human makes a whopping 35,000 decisions in one day!

Now that number may seem ridiculous… But if you consider the fact that apart from deciding to read this right now, it’s possible that you’ve also just taken a sip of coffee, or shifted the position you’re seated in. Maybe you just scratched an itch on your body, or checked the time.

It’s apparent that of the tens of thousands of choices we are presumed to make on any given day, a large portion of those are seemingly unconscious decisions. Even of the conscious decisions that we make, many of them are inconsequential (such as deciding to shower first thing in the morning rather than before you go to bed).

It’s these types of decisions that are usually pretty easy to make without giving much thought to why we’ve chosen what we did.

So why is it that we can get so caught up in making certain choices when we spend literally all hours of the day “exercising” our decision-making muscle??

This got me thinking…

Oftentimes these more difficult choices are accompanied with an almost visceral feeling, something you can actually sense in the pit of your stomach.

These are the gut-wrenching decisions. They’re the kind of choices that when laid out before us (and not properly acted upon) will keep us up during all hours of the night… The kind of decisions that can even stand to haunt us for months to come.

What makes this kind of decision-making so much more gut-wrenching than all the rest?

Well, the more time I spent considering this, the more I realized how these difficult choices have a special combination of factors.

The first and most important factor being that–

1) Gut-wrenching Decisions are Extremely Impactful

What makes these choices stand out from all the rest, is how they seemingly have the power to shift the trajectory of our lives in significant ways.

It’s decisions like,

How to decide where to go to college…
What city and program is the right fit for me?

How to decide between two jobs…
Do I leave my job to find something better, or do I embrace the job I have now and try to make the best of it?

How to decide whether to stay with a partner…
Should I marry this person that I’ve been with for years now, or should we break up?

These choices are hard because they lead to a future that’s unknown no matter what you end up deciding to do.

Which leads into factor #2…

2) The Information You Have Surrounding This Decision is Limited

Even the more notable and “big” life choices become a lot easier when you are able to do some research and get insight into why you would choose one option over another.

It’s why choosing what car you want to buy, (while difficult) is rarely gut-wrenching. In this situation, you have the ability to not only set a budget, but then also read through endless amounts of reviews. You are able to both analyze risk, as well as think it over.

What makes gut-wrenching decisions stand out from all the rest, is how they are usually very difficult (if not impossible) to research or predict.

Sure this new job you came across looks great on paper, but isn’t that what you said about your last job?

Okay so you’ve recognized that this new hire isn’t living up to your expectations, but nor did your last hire, so why put the time and effort into hiring someone new if they could just as easily lead to disappointment?

Gut-wrenching decisions ask you to make a guess about the future in a time and place when you are truly unable to know how things will turn out.

Which leads into the final important factor:

3) You’re Not Sure of What You Want (or you are, but you’re not sure if it’s realistic)

The final factor in a gut-wrenching choice stems from the ambiguity of what you desire.

It could be that you’re weighing over whether or not the last hire is being poorly managed or if they just are not a good fit?

Maybe you’re not sure if your doubts about your current partner are stemming from a fear of commitment that requires a leap of faith… Or if these doubts are actually coming up because of a real red flag that you will regret dismissing?

Almost all gut-wrenching decisions make you question what you think is possible.

Should I make the time to do a candidate search just to see who else might apply for the position?

Maybe if I break up with this person I could find someone even better suited to what I want in a partner?

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

All of this indecisiveness is coming up for two very real reasons:

You don’t know what you want.

Or you know what you want, but you don’t know if what you want is unrealistic.

Okay, but now that we’ve identified all of the turmoil and resistance that comes with these (seemingly) life-altering decisions… What can actually be done about it?

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I reveal the simple steps to Making Better Life Decisions from now, going forward! Happy decision-making!


One thought on “Making Gut-Wrenching Decisions—Part 1: What Makes A Decision Difficult?

  1. It's hard to come by educated people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you're talking about! Thanks

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