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Short and Sweet Summary: If you’ve lost confidence in your ability to make good decisions because you have no one around to bounce ideas off of, here’s a way to get your mojo back. Follow these decision-making tips for widows you absolutely can’t screw up.
How would you rate your decision-making skills these days?
If you’re like most widows, you’ve lost confidence in your ability to make (what you consider) good decisions because you’re making them alone. Everything is overwhelming and you tell yourself that making decisions solo is a recipe for disaster.
I mean, what if you make the wrong decision?
Without anyone to bounce ideas around with, you second-guess everything and are convinced you’ll make a foolish choice that has dire consequences from which you’ll never recover.
How am I doing so far? Does this sound like you?
That was me in the early days of widowhood, no doubt. I’ve talked before about my gold-medal-level second-guessing abilities. I’ve never been one to make quick decisions anyway, but adding widowhood to the mix left me paralyzed with indecision on just about every topic.
The good news for you is that there are no right or wrong decisions. No foolish or irrevocable choices. I could’ve saved myself a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety if I learned these tips much sooner. You don’t have to spend years in analysis paralysis like me.
Just follow along with me as we uncover the decision-making tips you absolutely can’t screw up.
YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO MAKE DECISIONS
You have a brain, so you have the ability to make decisions. Your ability to make decisions is no less or no more than my ability or anyone else’s ability. You have critical-thinking skills and you can use those skills to decide what to do in any given situation.
Those skills didn’t disappear with your spouse’s death.
It might feel like you don’t have the ability to make decisions because grief is holding you hostage. Or your paralyzing fear is holding you back. Maybe you think you’ve got too many things going on at once to make a viable decision about anything.
Those thoughts can muddle the process, for sure.
But they don’t take away your ability.
DECISIONS AREN’T RIGHT OR WRONG
So now that we know you’re capable, let’s talk about that gigantic elephant in the room.
What if you make the wrong decision?
This is where those pesky thoughts about your decision can trip you up, big time.
But what if I told you there were no right or wrong decisions? No good or bad outcomes?
Hear me out…
When you break it down to its basic components, a decision is simply a circumstance or a fact relevant to an event or action:
- Accepted a new job offer
- Sold my house
- Met so-and-so for coffee
Each of these decisions is an event or action that by itself is not tied to a feeling or emotion. It’s just an event.
But what you think about the event is where it starts to get sketchy. You see, your thoughts about your decisions carry more weight in your mind than the decisions themselves. It’s not really about whether or not you sell your house. Selling a house is a neutral circumstance. It’s just a transaction.
It’s about what you think and how you feel about selling your house that makes all the difference. If you think selling your house was a bad decision, well then by-golly, you will probably feel like crap because of this awful decision you made 😢. Who’s going to argue with you in your own mind?
But if you think selling your house was the best decision you’ve ever made, then you are probably on cloud nine because you’re obviously a stellar decision-maker 👌.
When your feelings get involved in the decision-making process, that’s when you assign a meaning to your decisions and separate them into “good” or “bad” categories.
However, your interpretation of the decision doesn’t change the event or action. In other words, the neutral action stays neutral. The event or action is you sold your house.
The question is, how do you want to feel about it?
YOU GET TO DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL ABOUT YOUR DECISION
You probably spend a lot of time beating yourself up about decisions you’ve made in the past. Which makes you leery of making decisions now because you don’t trust your judgement.
So, one of the easiest decision making tips for widows is to decide you made the best decision. Because only you know what’s best for you. And only you have the information to evaluate the decision at the time. Even if someone else has an opinion about your decision, it doesn’t matter (opinions are like assholes, anyway – everybody has one). They aren’t living your life or living with the results of your decision.
The only person who matters is you. The only thoughts that matter are yours. The biggest benefit you can give yourself is to take ownership of your decisions and rock it. And remind yourself that you can change your mind at any time. These decision-making tips for widows become crystal clear when you 1) remove other opinions and 2) allow yourself to feel good about your choices.
No one has to agree with you. Or give you permission. You get to decide what to do, how to do it, and how to be OK with the result.
If you want to feel good about your decisions, get good at noticing your thoughts about them. And be aware of the meaning you assign to every decision.
HOW TO HONE YOUR DECISION-MAKING SKILLS
Even if you’re completely on board with the idea that you can choose how you want to feel about your decisions, it’s still a good idea to hone those decision-making skills.
Get the best results possible by adhering to one or more of the following suggestions:
Map it Out
Get clear on the details. What is the event or circumstance? Is there a monetary component? How much time do you have to decide?
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Dig a little deeper with a pros vs. cons list. Get out a piece of paper and draw a line right down the middle. List pros on the left and cons on the right.
When you give yourself the chance see the evidence of whether or not to do the thing, your comfort level increases. If you have more pros, go for it! More cons? Reconsider or remove the option altogether.
Consider Your Motives
If fear is controlling your decision-making process, chances are you’re not allowing yourself to evaluate all your options. Or if you’re anxious, you might be pushing things along faster than necessary. When you’re writing down your pros and cons list, be aware of these emotional influences.
Be an Educated Consumer
Nothing can enhance your decision-making skills quicker than being informed. When you do the research, talk to others in similar situations or take the opposite approach from someone else to view both sides, you’ve got your brain firing on all cylinders. Finding all the information you can, both favorable or unfavorable, is essential in making an enlightened decision.
Set a Deadline
I’ve been caught in analysis paralysis more times than I care to mention. A super-helpful tip to get out of that vicious cycle is to set a deadline for your decision. Avoid unnecessary delays by just sticking to a set schedule.
Put it in Perspective
Not everything is a make-or-break decision. You don’t have to weigh the pros and cons of every single decision. Put it in perspective to determine how much time you want to spend on it.
HOW TO REMOVE REGRET FROM THE PROCESS
If you’re feeling regret about a decision you’ve made, remember that you, and no one else, is assigning meaning to that decision. The only way to feel regret is to tell yourself a story about why you should feel regret.
So change the story.
When you tell yourself that you made the best decision with the information you had at the time, you give your brain evidence that you make good decisions.
- You evaluated information
- You made a decision
- And your brain is happy you made the best decision
When you worry you made the wrong decision, your brain willingly provides evidence of that, too. So give your brain the ability to serve up evidence that you make good decisions. It’s more fun that way.
If the information you receive changes, you can change your evaluating procedure and make a different decision. Either way, the first decision wasn’t “bad” or “wrong,” it was just a decision. And you get to reevaluate at any time based on new information.
So what if someone else thinks you made the wrong decision? Well, the same principle applies. You’re assigning meaning to your decision based on someone else’s opinion. If you feel regret because you’re telling yourself a story that someone else’s opinion holds more weight than your own opinion, change the story.
Because no one else’s opinion should ever hold more weight than your own. Because no one else is living your life. Or living with the results of your decisions.
WIDOW WRAP UP
It might seem like a lot of baloney that you can just say, “hey, I’m going to change my story and be a world-class decision-maker!” These decision-making tips for widows might sound good in theory, but you’re not sure about implementing them in reality.
Maybe you need more convincing. That’s OK. I did too. Here’s a great article on the psychology of decision-making strategies.
Changing your thoughts about your decision-making skills can enhance your skills, no doubt. I mean, who isn’t more productive when they feel good about themselves? But this isn’t necessarily an overnight process.
As with anything that requires learning and growth, it takes time. Changing your thoughts from “I make terrible decisions” to “I make the best decision with the information I have at at the time,” takes a willingness to stop assigning a negative meaning to your thought process.
The truth is, we are all learning as we go. No one makes stellar decisions 100% of the time, but we learn from each one anyway. Some decisions will go your way and some won’t. However, the willingness to learn from the ones that don’t always go your way gives you the confidence to march forward with new decisions every day.
Because you can always change your mind or reevaluate as new information presents itself.
And you never have to worry about screwing up another decision ever again.