At the start of any year, there are lots of articles, blogs and social media posts talking about new year resolutions suggesting you become a new you, a thinner you, a better you…….. Resolutions create feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or failure. Often they are reliant on negative motivations – ie away from what we don’t want, rather than what we do. They tend to induce “black and white” thinking when life is mostly filled with a variety of shares of thinking.

You can probably guess I’m not a fan of the whole new year resolution thing.

We often face a mix of certainty and uncertainty in our lives, our careers and our many relationships, which gets me to the point of today’s musings: how to make decisions when you feel uncertain.

I want to share 3 ideas to help you make decisions when you feel uncertain.

Stop the going round and round

Picture this: you’re at the supermarket, looking at the shelves filled with things to go on toast: jams, marmalades, peanut butter, almond butter, marmite and vegemite, all kinds of honey, chocolate spreads, and on the choices go. What do you pick? Something familiar and certain but not aligned with your needs or something new, which you might not like yet provides you with extra goodness. You go round and round in your head – which one!?!?

The fancy name for this is analysis paralysis, or to you and me, overthinking. We try to think of every possibility, concern, bump in the night that might occur given the right circumstances – however unlikely, improbable, or even untruthful.

Of course, I’m not saying decide something without considering the reasonable impacts – absolutely mitigate any risks or potentially negative impacts but then just pick the best option. Spread it on your toast and there’s your feedback: if you like it, great and if not, move to your next best decision. By elimination, you’ll hit gold.

Become an explorer

Do you remember the advert where you were told to “suck it and see”? By reframing your decision into a series of adventurous experiments, you benefit in ways beyond creating certainty around your decision. You also build momentum and motivation as you progress through.

Making experimentation part of your journey towards achieving your experiment can reduce the stress and worries about making the wrong decision. 

Let’s say you’re enjoying your current role and know you’d like further promotions in the future and then an offer comes along before you’re ready.

By adding in regular career adventures, you can better understand your potential future directions and work out whether the offers, companies and bosses who come your way are the ones you wish to work with. Perhaps you read up on trends or from gurus and influencers in your field. You could take a broad range of training courses to dip your toes in new skills and new arenas or maybe you can work shadow leaders you admire. 

Each adventure adds new certainty to your career path, so when decisions are required, you can do so from a place of knowledge and experience.

Involve others

I’ve often talked about the value of your connections, both your formal and informal networks and communities. Who are your advisors, your listening ears, your wise women? 

As part of my coaching and training, I use a tool called One of many Conscious Network Design – by actively looking at the pillars of our lives, we can identify who has a back in each area, as well as our sponsors, experts, mentors and practical supporters.

Do an audit of your connections and the role they play in your decision-making area: let’s say you want to make a change to how you meet your physical needs you need to know:

– who is an expert in nutrition, sleep, exercise? 

– who can hold your hand to try new things or go new places?

– who can provide help to free up your time or cheer you on? 

– who will hold you accountable on the wobbly days?

and so on. Expand your thinking: your network can also include people you haven’t met. I value Dr Rangan Chattergee‘s wellbeing books, as much as Fearne Cotton‘s podcast on it – I don’t personally or professionally know them (yet?!), but they form part of my network.

There you have it 3 ways of how to make decisions when you feel uncertain. Have you set resolutions or intentions this year and how are you dealing with uncertainty? Which of my suggestions might you try?