Dubai, UAE

Decision Time: How to Make a Difficult Decision in 6 Simple Steps

We’ve all been there. Those times where we need to make a ‘big’ decision. Whether or not to quit our jobs. Start a business. Get married. Get divorced. Buy a house. Move to a new city or country. A decision so big the fear of making the wrong one can paralyse us.

The trick is to get the thoughts out of your mind, and down on paper. It is by far the most effective way to help you gain clarity and make that decision – once and for all.

Here is a systematic, 6 step process that will help you make that tough decision. You will need to write (obviously!) so grab a pen and notepad and let’s get started!

1)    What do you want?

What is the overall outcome you’re looking for?

To answer this you must first have clarity on your values. What are the things most important to you in life and/or your career? Your “Must Haves”.

Write down your top 10 values. And with those values in mind, ask yourself what is the overall result or outcome you are looking for?

For example: I want a job where I have the freedom to make my own decisions in a creative industry that makes a difference to the world.

Then ask yourself what will that give you? What’s your WHY? The more clear you are on your “why?”, the more motivated you will be to achieve your outcome.

If you have multiple outcomes, rank them in order of importance to you.

2)    What are your options?

As a rule of thumb, you will always have at least 3 options:

a)    Change nothing and stay exactly where you are

b)    Accept the situation as it is and do your best to make it work (adapt within the situation)

c)    Remove yourself from your current situation / Change / Do something else

For c) you might have multiple options. Write down all of the options you can think of from a) to c). Even the ones that might seem like a bit of a “dream” right now. The more options you have, the more you will feel like you have a choice.

3)    Assess the pros and cons of each option

Each option will have consequences – some good, some not so good. Write down what you will gain and what you would lose in choosing each option. A list of pros and cons.

Once you have done that, you need to assess each pro and con. Evaluating which are most important to you and your outcome, and the probability of each one occurring.

Take one option at a time and assess the following:

a)    How do the upsides and downsides of this option impact the overall outcome(s) I’m looking for? Does it move me closer to or further away from my desired outcome?

b)    On a scale of 1-10, how critical is each one in terms of achieving my outcome?

c)    What is the REAL probability of each upside and downside? Not the perceived probability, but the real probability. Write down the likelihood as a %.

d)    What is the emotional consequence of each upside and downside? And how will I cope/deal with that?

This exercise will help you to gain clarity on which options are real options, and which options you want to remove from your list.

4)    Reduce the uncertainty around the remaining options

It’s fear that keeps us stuck. To reduce the fear, we have to decrease the uncertainty around each downside of the remaining options. That means brainstorming around how you either eliminate the downsides or mitigate the risks associated with each downside.

5)     Choose the best option

The best option is the one that has the highest certainty of helping you to achieve to overall outcome and meet your emotional needs. It might not feel comfortable right now, but in the long run, will give you the result you’re ultimately seeking.

6)    Do everything you can to make it work

Ask yourself the following question: What am I willing to do to make this happen? You must be willing to do whatever it takes. Otherwise, you’ll keep making excuses to not do it. Agree with yourself this is the best option for you. And promise yourself, no matter what, you will do your best to make it work.

Now you MUST take action. As quickly as possible. As Mel Robbins states in her book “The 5 Second Rule”:

  1. Knowing what to do will never be enough.
  2. Knowing why you need to do it will never be enough.

It’s about action. “If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”

Figure out one action you could take towards your outcome and do it NOW.

Be brave. Be certain it’s the right thing to do. And do everything you can to make it work.

(And if it doesn’t quite go to plan – all you have to do is reassess. What is working for me? What isn’t working for me? And what can I do differently?)

What difficult decisions have you had to make? How did you do it? What did you learn from that? Please share your experiences and comments below!

Are you struggling with a difficult decision right now? Visit or email me at to find out how I can help.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

The Millionaire Mindset: 10 Ways to Train Your Brain for Success

12 Signs You’re on the Edge of Total Burnout

10 Most Harmful Thoughts Stopping Your Success and Happiness

12 Things You Need to Know Before You Start a Business

Should You Quit Your Job? 10 Things to Consider Before You Do

About the Author

Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.

For further information and inspiration, please visit or follow on Twitter @zetayarwoodLinkedin or Facebook

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