How to Make a Decision, Create a Plan of Action, and Seek Help
How to Make a Decision
We spend too much time making choices based on what could happen. Make the decision and if the bottom falls out – you will handle it then. In the meantime enjoy the decision you made. Making choices and decisions means you’re moving in a direction in your life.
If you’re struggling to make a decision right now, here’s something you can do:
1) Write out each option so you’re clear on what the choice is. Eliminate any options that you have a nagging feeling about and/or know that it is not what you want to do. Usually when making a decision there are 3 options and 2 are the front-runners but there always 1 that keeps weaseling it’s way in, get rid of it now, it’s out of play.
2) Now that you have 2 decisions, take one of the choices and look into the future and see your life. What does it look like? Are you on the path you would like to ultimately be on? Are you doing what is in-line with your beliefs and values?
3) Ask yourself all those same questions for the other decision.
4) Now walk away. Give yourself some space. Do something, anything, but think about this decision.
5) Come back to it see which life you would like to lead? Which makes the most sense to you?
How to Create a Plan of Action
Some of us are planners and some of us are not. If you’re like me, you love to get out your “to do” list and map out the next month of your life. If the idea of “planning” anything beyond your next meal turns you off, I understand your hesitation. You’re a “seat of your pants” kind of person and you don’t want my Type A-ness to rub off on you.
Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this but if you’re going through a crisis and need to make a big change in your life then the best way to ensure that you accomplish your goal is to follow these steps:
- Determine your goal
- List your tasks
- Break them down into doable chunks
- Schedule everything
- Set deadlines
I’m going to use an example to show you how it works. Let’s say I wanted to change jobs but didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do, I would need to create a plan of action so that I can determine what my next career step should be.
a) My goal is: Determine my next career/job
b) Brainstorm: Since I don’t know what kind of job I want I need to brainstorm all the different ways I can work on this goal.
c) Tasks: My brainstorming helped me think of some ways I can reach my goal. The tasks I’m going to focus on are:
- Look at various job sites to see what positions interest me
- Take some online personality quizzes to see if that might help
- Do some journaling about what I liked and didn’t like about my current and past jobs
d) Break it up: If I decided to focus on the first task, I could easily get overwhelmed. There are a lot of job sites and a lot of jobs listed on those sites – that’s a big task. So I’m going to break it down.
- Non-profit jobs
- Advertising jobs
- Jobs in Education
You decide, but remember if a task feels too big - don’t skip it or give up, break it down and easier to manage.
e) Schedule: Now I’m going to schedule the time and date that I’m going to search for interesting positions on Indeed. I’ve estimated that it’s going to take me 3 hours so I’m going to find 3 – 1 hour blocks of time in my schedule.
f) Deadlines: My goal is to figure out what I want to do next for a career. Now this is something that will morph and change in time but I do need to give myself some kind of deadline for when I’m going to have all my tasks completed. Pick a date and stick with it.
How to Seek Help
You’ve made the decision to seek a therapist or coach and as you scan the websites and directories for therapists in your area, a pit in your stomach starts to tighten and your anxiety begins to rise. You say to yourself, “how am I going to figure out who can help…I can’t even figure out my own problems!”
There are hundreds, thousands of therapists and coaches to choose from. I’m a licensed therapist and coach and I know that looking for the right person to help you reach your goals can feel like an overwhelming process. There are so many things to think about when choosing the right therapist or coach:
Here are the most frequently asked questions I hear from potential clients:
a) What should I be looking for in a therapist?
Finding the right therapist is similar to finding the right real estate agent, drycleaner, dentist, etc. with a twist. When you are looking for a dentist, you need to believe they are competent and able to do their job.
The “twist” is that you don’t have to feel connected, heard, understood by the person cleaning your teeth. You are probably going to be spending more time with your therapist or coach than any other health care provider. You will be sharing intimate details of your life with them and you need to feel like they understand you and truly hear what you are trying to say.
Exercise: Most therapist and coaches have a website. As you look at potential therapists and coach’s websites, see what kind of feeling you get from them. Ask yourself:
Is this someone I would enjoy chatting with at a party?
If they worked in my office, would I want to go to lunch with them?
If we were in college together, would I invite this person to be in my study group?
Trust your instincts and if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t the right match.
b) I have found a couple of therapists and coaches that I like, now what?
All therapists and coaches are willing to spend at least 15-30 minutes on the phone to learn more about you and what you help with. If they’re unwilling to have any kind of conversation with you over the phone ahead of time – I would move on to the next person on your list.
Exercise: When you’re talking with the therapist and/or coach on the phone, check in with your gut again. Do you enjoy talking with this person? Is it easy to talk with them? Think about the kinds of qualities in appreciate in a good friend or colleague:
- Do you like humor?
- Do you like someone who is straightforward?
- Do you like someone who seems to listen more than they talk?
If the relationship feels forced or uncomfortable in anyway, you should move on to the next name on your list.
Feel free to call more than one therapist or coach. Ask the same set of questions and see how their responses vary. This relationship is an important one so take your time.
Phew! You made it. How are you feeling? I recommend that you keep these exercises handy so you can refer back to them anytime you need a bit of direction when you’re feeling lost.
This crisis is a good thing. Don’t fight it and don’t let it make you feel like you have no control over your life. You and only you can get yourself from crisis to clarity.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you’re interested in my services, click here to schedule a free 20 minute phone consultation to see if we would be a good fit.