In a world where you can get your entire network’s opinion on everything, right down to the photos you just uploaded to Facebook, it’s hard not to seek the opinions of others when you’re poised to make a big decision. Whether you’re contemplating what career path to pursue or just debating what to wear Friday night, it’s always nice to have the approval of your friends, family, and co-workers.
But sometimes, the need for outside endorsement can become too important—even paralyzing—and can get in the way of your ability to make the best choices for you. While learning how to trust your intuition and decision-making skills isn’t always easy, it’s an important part of personal growth. So follow these tips, and learn how to feel confident in the choices you make—without requiring the stamp of approval from all of Facebook:
1. Trust Your Instincts
Often, your very first impressions reveal your true preferences. This doesn’t mean you should rush to the first conclusion that crosses your mind, but do remember that seeking too many opinions on something—whether it’s a new haircut or a new job—can confuse what you originally wanted. To avoid over-complicating a situation, it’s helpful to step back, take a deep breath, and re-focus on what you felt when you initially started the decision-making process.
2. Establish a Circle of Trust
Instead of asking everyone from your brother to the barista for advice, make it a point to refer to a small, consistent group of trusted “advisors.” Choose friends, relatives, or co-workers who know you well and who can give unbiased recommendations without pressuring you or getting overly involved. Limiting the number of people you consult will help you get the advice you’re seeking—without getting overwhelmed.
3. Take Your Time
Often, the pressure to make a decision can make you anxious to move forward before you’ve taken the time you need to really weigh your options. But in many cases, you aren’t actually expected to decide on the spot, and it’s perfectly appropriate to pause and reflect. If you’re presented with a decision that throws you for a loop—say, a surprise job offer—ask the other party for some time to consider the situation, and for a deadline for when you need to respond.
4. Ask Questions
Asking lots of additional questions is another way to buy yourself some time and gather more information while you’re making a decision. Learning more about your options can not only help you make up your mind, but it’ll also allow you to feel more at ease with your choice. Avoid questions that can be dismissed with a simple yes or no (“is this apartment complex safe?”), and instead, present ones that prompt further discussion (“what are the best and worst parts about living in this neighborhood?”).
5. Practice Makes Perfect
The more often you’re faced with making tough decisions, the more confidence you’ll have in your ability to choose the right option. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will, slowly, become a more comfortable and efficient process. And, just like any other skill, with some practice, it can be fine-tuned into a successful formula.
For most of us, it’s not easy to feel completely confident in all of our decisions. But while it’s perfectly acceptable to seek the advice of others as you navigate complicated situations, the more you learn to trust yourself, the better your decisions will be for you.