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Path splits two directions, fork in the roadEvery once in a while, life puts us at a crossroads, leaving us there with an overwhelming feeling of which path to choose, and whether it is the right choice. When this happens, the decision is usually one of the toughest ones we have to make for our own well-being.

But why do we feel extra pressure at decision making times? We make minor choices every day, all day long, starting from the time we wake up, about how to dress, what to eat, and what our plans for the day will be. Yet, when making bigger decisions in our lives, there is this underlying feeling of “fear” in not making the correct decision, or maybe the sense of overwhelming risk in deciding the result.

Since there is no “perfect” formula for making the right decision, the best thing to do is to approach the issue from all different perspectives first, which will empower you to choose the path that seems the most reasonable and balanced at the time. Keep these four tips in mind:

1. Take a left-brain view.  Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of if I make the wrong choice and choose the wrong path?” If fear is a factor that may be holding you back from making your ultimate decision, try writing down the decision you need to make first. After that, list everything that you are worried about regarding this decision. Include the worst case scenario. Think about whether your decision will be permanent or reversible. Make a full list of all your options. Sometimes making a list of pros and cons may help you see the big picture. Allow yourself to vent without judging yourself. Get support from a friend or family member if needed.

When decision making time comes, stay calm. You cannot make a rational decision if you are too emotional. If you cannot stay calm at the moment, then, if you can, put off any decision making until you can think clearly. In order to make an informed decision, you must gather as much data as possible. Ask yourself “why” you are making this decision. Also, will your outcome negatively affect the well-being of anyone in your life? If you are married or have children, be sure to take them into consideration in your decision making process.

2. Take a third person view.  Advise yourself as if you were a friend. If a friend was going through this, what would you say to help empower them to choose well? Sometimes taking a step back from deciding can help you make the right choice.

3. Take a right-brain view. The best way to make a decision is to think about the future. “How am I going to feel about this in a few years.?” Trust your instincts. You probably have a sense of which decision is the right one, so if all else fails you should go with your gut. Now, choose your path.  Make your decision based on what feels right for YOU.

4. Have a backup plan. Thinking ahead into the future may help you feel less bothered by any possible negative outcomes. Always, always, always make a backup plan to deal with your worst case scenario, “just in case.” At least you will feel better equipped if the worst case scenario turns into a reality.

In the end the choice is yours. No matter what decision you make, be prepared to accept responsibility for every outcome. If things don’t work out, it’s always better to have made a conscious decision than to have been careless. At least you will know that you made the best choice you could, given what you knew at the time.