LEAP WITH US: Decision-Making Made Easy   

(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)

Decision-making can be tough. In fact, depending on your personality, it can be a downright dreaded part of life. There is a lot of pressure behind making choices – after all, they can have a profound effect on our individual journeys. While it’s important to take each commitment seriously, there are a few ways to eliminate the fear of making the wrong decision that can relieve pressure and ensure that you feel positive about the future.

Throughout the decision-making process, ask yourself:

Is this something I WANT or NEED?

It takes an incredible amount of maturity to ask this question and provide an honest answer. Fast food vs. a homemade grain bowl; the house with the in-ground pool or the one that makes more sense for the budget; the college with the big name or the one closer to home that will provide a good education AND an opportunity to save a few pennies. All day, every day, decisions must be made. It is so important at the end of the day to feel good about the choices that have been made, rather than regretting the extra calories or empty wallet. While it’s true that you do look great behind the wheel of that BMW, you may be wishing you had the Subaru when snow hits the ground.

How will my decision affect the future?

Believe it or not, all of our decisions affect the future. Whether we choose to eat the greasy burger over the leafy green salad, spend the paycheck on the latest basketball shoes or buy the car we want rather than the one we need, all of our choices have consequences. Thinking things through and creating a list of pros and cons is a great way to be sure you have considered all aspects of the decision and how it may affect the short-term and long-term future. Oftentimes, this means taking a look at the budget (for big-ticket items), your schedule (when you choose to add a commitment to an already-busy week), travel time (when you choose the college far from home) and your living arrangement (when you choose to adopt that fur ball with the puppy dog eyes). Don’t rush the process – good things come to those who wait!

Who can I ask for input or where can I research information?

What’s the first thing you do when you’re about to make a fairly large purchase, book a hotel or decide on a restaurant? If you’re like most people, you turn to the internet and see what others have to say. Don’t you wish all decisions came with a review section? It’s important to do your homework when making any decision in life. If you’re trying to narrow down a college, pay the campus a visit and talk to current students, professors and administration; when purchasing a home, visit a few banks, make a few calls and ask your family and friends to share their own experiences. There are always people willing to help guide you and plenty of resources online that can offer feedback, answers, and pros and cons.

How will I see this decision through?

Oftentimes, we make a decision that leads not just to unwanted results, but downright tough consequences. We’ve then got more decisions to make. When what is returned is less than desirable, it’s important to find a way to accept things for what they are and find a positive way to live with what has resulted. Did you decide to try out for the baseball team, only to find out you probably should have had some prior experience? Make a rash decision to spend a decent amount of money on a pair of shoes to discover the thrill of wearing them was short-lived? Call off a relationship but realize that maybe (at least some) of the fingers should be pointed back at you? Such is life! It’s full of ups and downs, bumps and bruises and more decisions around every turn. But that old adage that when life gives you lemons, it’s best to make lemonade is incredibly true! Putting a positive spin on life’s curveballs, setbacks or letdowns helps us to find the good in anything. It makes us resourceful, teaches us lessons and encourages us to set goals.