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How to Take the Anxiety out of Major Life Decisions

When you take a look at Astrological symbols, you can see how a person defines themselves, granted that you believe in it. And, I am definitely a big believer. So, when my friends ask me where we should go to eat or how to spend our day off or what song to pick when you get passed the AUX cord, a surge of anxiety overcomes me. I can’t choose between Italian or Chinese, staying in or going to the movies, and Hozier or Adele. Usually, I chalk this up to my rising Libra rising sign and pass the baton for someone else to pick.

However, something that I’ve been trying to work on recently is taking more initiative when making decisions — especially big decisions. Picking a college, when one hundred voices are screaming at you to try to influence your decision is nerve-racking and anxiety inducing. And, we aren’t saying that it isn’t. But, there are ways for you to reduce the amount of anxiety that you feel when you are making that decision. Only you know what is best yourself, so be confident in the decision that you make.

The decision that you make is unique to you, so there is no right decision. Understanding your goals before you make a decision can help you decide.

Understand that there is not one solution

Everytime something goes wrong in life, the person supporting you brings up  the oldest trope in the book: Everything happens for a reason. And, in a sense, they are right. There does not exist a reality in which you took that other choice, you are living right here and right now with the choice that you made. So, what they’re saying has validity; the choice you made is how your life is supposed to go.

But, bear with me a moment. What if you chose the other path? What if you went to one school over the other, chose one career over the other, or even chose to move one place or the other. The things that matter will not have changed. The person who you are will not have changed. It is just the periphery that changes when you make a large life decision. It is only what you occupy your mind with that changes, not your mind itself. No matter which decision you make, understand that there is no correct or right decision. Only once you have made the decision is the decision that you made “correct.”

Because your life is unique in the way that you have chosen to shape it, and by making that decision you make your life unique. Making the right decision can be either option based on what your goals are. Fast Company tells us that knowing your goal is key, as it unlocks the decision that needs to be made.

There are ways to manage your anxiety and make sure that it doesn’t hinder your decision making process. Employing these tricks can help you make important choices without feeling overwhelmed.

Try some anxiety reducing tricks

Everyone has a little trick that helps them calm down in high anxiety inducing situations. Some methods include meditation, deep breathing, or even taking a minute and removing yourself from the situation if you can. But, did you know that there are tricks to reduce anxiety during a life changing decision?

When in doubt, act it out

One of the best tricks I’ve found is actually inspired by a scene from Parks & Rec. In one of the scenes, the two main characters had to decide if they could handle one of them running for public office. They decided to pick one day where they acted as if they ran for office, and one where they acted as if they didn’t.

Although an example from fiction, this method is proven to work and help you decide whether or not your decision is the right one for you. The anxiety comes from the act of choosing itself and then from the idea that you chose incorrectly. You can quickly circumvent both of these by choosing quickly and not fully choosing until you’ve had time to understand what either would mean for you. Decisions take time to understand the brink of them. They cannot be quickly chosen when they change the world for you. Thus, this trick allows you time to decide while allowing you to take stock of your emotions about the decision.

Think it through from both sides

Another trick you can employ is making a pros and cons list. While it may seem rudimentary, actually writing your thoughts onto paper and visually seeing that one list is longer than the other can help your brain understand the complexity of the decision and the right choice to make for your wellbeing. A pros and cons list can also help you think of the ramifications of a decision that are outside of the box.

Having a network of people to talk to can help you make a big decision.  

Have a support system to bounce ideas off of

Having someone to talk to about important life decisions, even if it is just to bounce ideas off of, is critical when making choices that affect your life. It could be that another person brings in a perspective that you didn’t think about or it could be that through articulating your thoughts you realize that there is a flaw in your argument. Having someone as your sounding board can help you decipher some of the pros and cons that were on your list you made earlier.

Another benefit of having someone you can explain your thoughts to allows you to be more confident in them. Catherine Plano, a life coach, explains that through the repetition of a phrase helps you increase the extent to which you believe that phrase. By talking to multiple people about your decision, you can increase the confidence in that decision and ultimately lower your anxiety.