Making decisions seems particularly challenging when life is at its fastest and time seems short. Often, it’s just a case of being able to step back and weigh the pros and cons – which means making some bigger changes to your lifestyle. Make these seven things – like improving your language skills and exercise – part of your regular routine and before you know it, your decision-making difficulties will have magically disappeared…
1. Get some arts and culture in your life
This could be anything from taking weekly salsa classes to putting opera performances in your monthly schedule. Dedicate an hour three times per week to learning to play the guitar, or try painting the scenes from your favourite movie using gouache.
Although this might seem time-consuming, spending time engaging with arts and culture will provide a worthwhile payback: increased concentration ability, alongside a boost to your everyday mood – both useful when it comes to decision-making. You’ll get the strongest decision-making benefits if you try something extraordinary, something you’d never thought of doing before, like sculpture modelling, or learning the harp, for example.
2. Develop your programming or language skills
To exercise a different part of your brain, work on something more technical. You could focus on developing your writing skills or study a foreign language. Otherwise, dive deep into programming or master any useful software. This method kills two birds with one stone; dedicating leisure time to studying IT or improving your foreign language skills means you are also likely to end up adding extra value to your CV.
3. Hang out with people of all ages
Try to widen the age range of people surrounding you. Stay in touch with those older than you, and also those who are much younger. Contact with the first group can help you become more mindful and better at planning for the future, while the second can help you keep in touch with your earlier dreams, achievements and failures.
While past victories will bring a sense of positivity and confidence, mistakes will keep your away from stepping on the same rake twice.
Try not to eliminate any age group. Interaction with people of other ages can help with decision-making by giving you a chance to step back from the race with contemporaries, to really weigh all the pros and cons of different scenarios from a more balanced and detached perspective.
Beach volleyball or figure skating, ballet or martial arts: whichever sport feels comfortable, safe and fun for you, do it! Meet new people, keep in shape with exercise! As a Russian proverb says: “in a healthy body is a healthy spirit.” As your body becomes more finely honed, you’ll find your decision-making skills do too.
5. Get experimental with your cooking
Don’t usually cook? Try it! If you are used to cooking, open up new culinary horizons. Spend Saturday morning baking rainbow sherbet cupcakes, surprise your family with gazpacho and crab meat, or feast on roast sirloin in the company of friends.
You’ll find that while your hands are busy stirring or spicing or sautéing, your mind is secretly busy thinking over that decision you’ve been struggling with. And if you can master all the choices presented by the world of foods, surely you can handle decision-making in other areas too.
6. Get social online
Join online communities with the aim of attending picnics, flash mobs or popular events throughout your city. You will feel yourself part of a big, big society, accompanied by an understanding that every individual’s life means a lot and every person influences thousands of lives every day.
You’ll also have hundreds, or thousands, of examples and experiences to draw upon when making decisions about your own life.
7. Write down the pros and cons
Finally, get back to the most common – and still effective – decision-making technique of all: a pros and cons list. Write down all the positive and negative aspects of the dilemma. It’s better to use a bigger paper format, like A3 – don’t let the size of your stationary limit your options!