Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through the links and make a purchase.
I recently had to make a hard decision.
As much as I knew I had to make the decision, I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to.
But I did it.
It was actually the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
Even as an anxious, non-confrontational person who doesn’t like making decisions and sometimes tends to avoid facing problems, I still did it.
Now, I am much happier.
The hard decision I had to make was leaving a relationship that was creating unhappiness in my life and wasn’t in alignment with my values and future.
The following tips on how to make a hard decision can apply to not only breakups, but leaving a job, ending a friendship, moving away, or any painful, uncomfortable or scary change that we have to make for the better.
Here, I share what I learned and how I was able to make an emotionally tough decision.
1. Think about future you
I want you to think about future you right now. This is the you that you want to be. The ideal, happier, wiser, improved you.
What would they want you to do?
Doing this can help prevent mistakes, regrets, and not acting sooner than later.
Thinking about future me is what helped me the most in making the hard decision.
I knew that not making the decision would be more comfortable for me now, but worse for me in the long run.
Hard decisions give us better futures, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
If we are faced with a hard decision, it often comes with unhappiness and a need for change.
Many of us are scared of change so we stay comfortable yet unhappy or unfulfilled.
With risk and hard decisions, there is opportunity, freedom, and growth.
I am proud and happy that past me thought of me now.
2. Understand that intense pain now is better than less intense enduring pain
With a hard decision comes pain and discomfort. Either way, there will be pain.
We can either face the immense sharp pain of ripping the band-aid off or allow a dull pain of infection and disease growing causing greater and lasting harm to ourselves.
Doing what’s hard makes life easier. Doing what’s easy makes life harder.
Making the decision for me was hard, awkward, uncomfortable, and incredibly painful. But I faced it.
So, when it comes to making the hard decision or doing nothing, you have two choices.
You can make the difficult decision and experience an enormous amount of pain right now. Anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, discomfort.
You can accept and face that pain sooner than later for a better future.
Or you can make the easy, comfortable choice and do nothing and deal with a less intense, long-term enduring regretful pain.
Keep in mind you will experience pain in either situation. The type of pain you feel is your choice.
3. Place more importance on your values over your feelings
These values should of course include yourself. Valuing your needs, wants, yourself and what’s important to you and will make you happy.
A lot of times we sacrifice our happiness and don’t love ourselves enough because it’s easier, safer, and more comfortable.
Besides valuing yourself, you should be clear on your values, goals and what you want out of your life. If something is not aligned with your values, changes should be made in that aspect.
Oftentimes what we want now or what we think we want is not always best for us. Our feelings can make us want to make the easy decision.
Your ability and willingness to experience difficult emotions directly correlates to your success and happiness.
It’s important to remind ourselves that feelings and emotions are temporary and often fleeting, especially intense ones. What’s more important is overall life satisfaction and happiness.
Pain and fear can be a good thing, but our lizard brain which hasn’t evolved to recognize this makes us think we should avoid it to survive. Our rational brain knows better.
4. Know that doing nothing is a decision too
It’s an easy choice to do nothing. But it’s a costly choice and you will pay for it.
When you don’t act, you are choosing to not act. You are making that choice.
Everything you do or don’t do in your life is a choice.
Some people are passive and let life happen to them. That is a choice.
Others take control and initiative in creating their life, making decisions and taking risks that better their lives.
Making hard decisions gives you power that nothing else can.
Over time, you will find that there are trends in your life. These trends are based on what is going in your life now. Trends continue unless there is change which reverses the trend.
This goes for everything in your life. Your relationships, your career, your health. Things are either going in an upward (positive) or downward (negative) trend.
They will continue to go in the trend they are going in unless there is change.
5. Consider that waiting to make a decision is a waste of time
If you need to make a hard decision, chances are that you already know the decision you want to make.
The problem is that you don’t want to make it.
What really pushed me to action was thinking about how I was just wasting time waiting for the decision to be made.
The sooner I made the decision, the sooner I could be closer to the life I wanted to live.
When you’re waiting to make a decision, you’re just stuck in a limbo.
Your mind is thinking about the future, but you’re physically stuck in the past. Your actions are not in alignment with your values.
The fear of regret and wasting time should be stronger than the fear and pain of making a difficult decision.
Remember that if you create change in your life, there is always chance for a better future.
6. Think about the immense growth that will come from making this decision
When thinking about the decision I had to make, sometimes I would wish that I could just have someone do it for me or somehow magically just have it happen.
Then I realized what a waste that would be. I realized that I could use this for immense growth and personal power in taking control of my life and future.
This was my decision to make and there was so much power in that.
It would be me doing something for myself and creating my life and future.
As much as I hated it, it made me want to make the decision and embrace the pain and hardship from it.
It made me appreciate the freedom I have in the ability to make this decision. Others have it much harder than me to make the same or similar decisions.
Take power in making your decision and embrace the freedom in your ability to make it.
7. Make a plan
Sometimes a hard decision involves a lot of small steps toward that decision. Or doing some things that will make that decision easier.
A lot of times that are obstacles in the way of the decision that have to cleared.
Make a list of things that need to be done to get you closer to making that decision.
These things should be urgent and top priority. Don’t waste time and wait around for them to get done. It will only set you back further.
Make sure these are things that you have control in taking care of so they don’t just become excuses that only stall your decision.
Making a plan and following small steps puts things into motion.
8. Set a deadline
Setting a deadline puts the decision into stone.
It makes it real. You’ve mentally made your decision. Now it’s time to follow through with it.
When setting a deadline, set an actual date. This is a part of the plan. The more details, the more clear the picture of your decision, the better.
Just make sure you don’t push the deadline unless it’s absolutely necessary and don’t make the deadline too far out either. Remember tip number 5.
9. Tell others
Sometimes telling others about the decision you plan to make can help with accountability.
It forced me to follow through with my decision and not fall back on the fear or comfort trap.
Making a hard decision can feel very isolating. It’s also helpful to have a support group which can help reduce anxiety and make you realize that you’re not alone in what you’re going through.
Everyone experiences having to make a hard decision at one point in their life.
Listening to others’ experiences on a decision I had never made before but they had helped solidify my need for action.
Just talking to others about the decision can significantly help with the emotional pain of making the decision.
Having an outside opinion can also be useful if you’re having trouble making sure it’s the right decision.
10. Make a commitment to yourself
This is especially important if you want to keep your decision to yourself until you make it.
When we make a commitment to others, we’re more likely to follow through because we don’t want to disappoint them.
But when it comes to commitments to ourselves, a lot of us can be more lenient. Don’t let this happen.
I made a commitment to myself that I was following through with no matter what.
No matter how scared I was. No matter how guilty I felt. No matter how painful it got.
I wasn’t going to let myself talk me out of it. I wasn’t going to let myself backtrack.
When I finally took action on the decision, I faced a completely unexpected outcome that made it even harder to follow through and was given the easy opportunity to backtrack my decision. Even then, I still stayed strong with the commitment I made to myself.
I want you to make a commitment to yourself that on your deadline you’re taking action and following through on your decision.
Don’t neglect future you and keep them in mind. They will thank you later.
Now, take action and make that hard decision.
I believe in you. You are strong. Future you is counting on you now. You can do this.
If I could do it, so could you.