4 Helpful Steps To Make ANY Tough Decision With Confidence

Gut wrenching decisions? Let your values help out.


I found myself struggling with anxiety and lacking confidence. It seemed like I was being yanked and pulled in all directions. I had way too much on my plate. Any one of my numerous projects could have easily taken up every moment of my time. I wanted to do them all and I wanted to do them all well.

Over the next several weeks, I was able to check a few of the projects off my list. But, I still did not feel balanced.


I was struggling with even the small decisions that required me to make a choice on how I was to spend my time. Until cloning becomes an acceptable practice for humans, I cannot be in two places at once. With three super active kids, a full-time practice, writing and speaking commitments, coaching a summer team, and an occasional social life to keep my sanity—time is precious and sometimes sacrifices must be made. 

There are so many no-win decisions when it comes to time. For example just this week I had to choose between my daughter's home track meet and my son's away baseball game. Yeah, I'm going to feel guilty either way. But, very few decisions are completely no-win.


Recently, I was on the brink of faking sick in order to not go to dinner with friends because I really wanted to work on an article. My inner dialog was justifying the lie: "If I tell them I am sick, they'll know what I mean.

I don't believe it when people say they missed their appointment because they didn't feel well—I get it.  It's normal to lie about your health." Holy cow, did I just really think that it was "normal to lie about your health." I hope karma wasn't paying attention.

Something needed to be done. That's when I remembered an exercise that has helped me in the past when I felt overwhelmed with commitments: find the 10 values that steer your life. If you are not aware of your values, then you are swimming in anxiety when it comes to making choices

After going through the process of finding my 10 values, the decision became clear. I did not lie and I told my friends that I was behind and needed time to write that evening. Why didn't I do this sooner? I felt authentic with who I was. I felt good about my work.


I realized that I have surrounded myself with friends who are also very driven and respect that I had to make sacrifices. We even planned our next outing. Is choosing work over friends always the right decision? Rarely, but given the situation and my personal list of life values, I felt good about my decision—at least this time.

The following will walk you through the step-by-step process of finding the values that represent the life you desire. Your personal values that represent the true direction you want to take in your life will reduce your anxiety, take the guesswork out of decisions, and make you feel good about your choices—without lying.

1. Find A List Of Life Values.

I sat down with a blank piece of paper and stared. Then I remembered this great invention called the Internet. I searched for "values list" and was presented with 100's of words representing the most common values. It was overwhelming. I decided on a list of approximately 300 values listed in alphabetical order to peruse.


2. Go With Your Gut—Quickly.

After you have your list, go quickly through it using your instincts. Rate each value on a scale from 0 to 5. Let 0 represent that the value is not important at all and 5 represent that it is extremely important. Don’t ponder on each word, there are just too many of them. When making these types of decisions, your first thought is generally the most accurate.

3. Keep On Weeding.

After eliminating the low rated values, go through the list again and get pickier. What you will probably find is that many of the words represent essentially the same value. For example: connection, relationship, and rapport may all carry similar meanings to you—pick the word that most resonates. Keep on weeding until you get down to your top 10.


4. Review Your Values Daily.

For the next week, every night before you go to bed and every morning when you wake up read them. Quickly consider each value and then begin or end your day. It is amazing how much easier it is to make those tough decisions when your values are clear in your mind.