The 9 Most Important Decisions A Person Can Make In Their Life, According To Experts

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Every day of our lives, we face a multitude of decisions. We can go so far as to choose not to decide anything!

Of course, some decisions are more critical than others and might require more careful consideration before we act on the decision.

Choosing what clothes to wear for the day can be as simple and easy as checking the local weather update. However, deciding whether or not to get married, have children, or remain childless are far more difficult choices to make.

Making a big decision can create a lot of anxiety for some people, but if we know what choices might be coming, we can better prepare ourselves for the big decisions when they are presented to us.

Our life and relationship experts have lent their wisdom so you can have some signposts of the big decisions you might have coming your way.

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Here are the 10 most important decisions you can make in your life, according to Yourtango experts: 

1. The decision to actually make a decision

The most important decision is a process rather than a discrete act. It's the definition of courage: A process of becoming that involves the willingness to realize your true capacities by going through discomfort, fear, anxiety, or suffering and taking wholehearted responsible action. This will animate and make authentic most of your decisions to benefit yourself and likely others.

Ruth Schimel Ph.D., Career & Life Management Consultant, Author

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2. To choose yourself

No one can do your push-ups for you. You have to teach yourself how to choose to feel better than how negative thinking has made you feel. The motivation for self-care has to come from within. Relying on outside conditions or people to fill the void inside will never lead to you feeling fulfilled on the outside.

— Loulou Palmer, EFT-ADV, Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique

3. To define your values

The most important decision a person can make is how you define your purpose and values. This decision shapes the entire course of their existence, influencing everything from their relationships and careers to their overall happiness and fulfillment.

Defining one's purpose and values is a deeply personal process. It requires individuals to reflect on what truly matters to them, what brings them joy, and what they want to contribute to the world. This decision is pivotal because it serves as a compass guiding all other choices and actions.

When you have a clear sense of your purpose and values, you are better equipped to make decisions that align with them. You can choose a career that resonates with your passions, build relationships with people who share your values, and make choices that lead to personal growth and fulfillment.

However, it's critical to acknowledge this decision is not a one-time event but an ongoing journey. As you grow and evolve, your purpose and values may also change. It's essential to revisit and reassess them periodically to ensure they continue to serve as a meaningful guide in your life.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/ SUDCC II Waismann Method Rapid Detox Founder

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4. To understand what gives your life purpose

What gives your life meaning and purpose? This foundation becomes the basis for many other life choices, such as career, relationships, and personal development.

If you're clear about your values and purpose, you can align your decisions and actions accordingly, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

This clarity can guide you in making choices related to your education, career, relationships, lifestyle, and personal growth, helping you stay on a path that resonates with your core desires.

However, it's important to remember that life is complex, and people often face many significant decisions.

What's most important to remember is values and purpose will vary from person to person and at different stages of their life.

Sue Kohn-Taylor, Mental Fitness & Self Leadership Coach

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5. To choose a life partner

By far, the most important decision a person can make is who to marry. Our choice of spouse influences nearly every aspect of our lives. Marriage determines our finances, where we live, our children, our social life, our extended family, our health, and our longevity. Divorce is rampant in our culture because we don't always go into our choice of spouse with enough information and thought. Most of us choose our spouse while in the early stage of "falling in love"; that is, while under the influence of hormones and chemicals! This isn't the best way to make one of the most important decisions in our lives.

Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT, MS Counselor/Therapist

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The life partner you choose will shape and influence your life. You are responsible to them in every arena of their lives. Their choices or circumstances will affect you. By default, you share their failure and success, health or sickness, sadness, and joy. In staying together or being separated, they continue to be a part of your life. Choose well and wisely

Reta Faye Walker, Ph.D. - Expert Relationship Coach

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Who you choose for your life partner and if you have children with this person: As a licensed psychologist, I see a lot of pain and suffering in individuals who feel they are partnered with someone they are incompatible with. Conversely, I see the buffering effects of a good marriage on other life stressors. Finally, having children will substantially alter your life course — and who one does this with is important. Even after a divorce, for example, if you have children, you will be forever tied to that person.

Laurie Mintz Laurie Mintz, Psychologist and Author of Becoming Cliterate and a Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex

6. To create a child

Having a child, hands down. You can change your partner, address, and career — but a child is for life. Prepare for the changes children bring and start feathering your nest before their birth to give them a loving, stable home when they arrive.

Gloria Brame, Ph.D. Sex therapist, sexologist, author

7. To choose you will have a child with

Life is full of important decisions and life-changing moments. But the most important decision you will ever make is who you have a child with. It is secondary to marriage. Because once you have created a life, you will always be connected to this other person. It does not matter if they know you like you or want nothing to do with you. Parents can make choices that have long-term consequences. If you decide to create life, put some serious thought into who you do this with.

Merle Yost, LMFT, Author

8. To tie yourself to another person

The most important decision of your life is whom you have children with. When you have a child with someone, you are tied to that person forever.

Hopefully, it's a good experience, you become a happy family, and your children are blessings for both of you.

However, many romantic involvements end, so if you have children together and split up, you'll probably face one of the following scenarios.

You manage to co-parent amicably.

You tolerate each other, but the kids are caught in the middle.

You hate each other, and the kids have to deal with hostility.

If the partner is disordered, they use the kids to control you.

The other parent abandons you and the kids, and you raise them alone.

Even if the other parent disappears, when there are children, you are forever tied to them genetically. This could be a problem if the other parent is a sociopath.

Personality disorders are about 50% genetic. Therefore, your children may inherit a predisposition to become disordered.

It's possible for proactive parenting to prevent a disorder from developing, but this is hard work.

So think carefully about whom you have children with, which means you should think carefully about whom you are with. Even if you don't intend to have children, sometimes it happens.

Donna Andersen, Author and podcast host

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9. To know which app is running your brain

Whenever you're faced with an important decision, remember this: It's who you decide to be when you make the decision that truly matters. Did your brain twist into a knot?

Let’s untie it.

Applied to psychology, the law of cause and effect dictates that our dominant mindset (cause) creates how we feel, and our emotions determine our actions and life choices (effect). I like to compare the subconscious mind, which holds all our mindsets, to a smartphone with many shimmering apps gazing at us from the screen.

When we open one of these apps, the phone becomes it, performing according to the data within that app. So does our brain.

When life triggers us (you get fired), immediately, the mindset (an app) associated with a similar event in your past clicks open, unleashing thoughts (data) such as "I am not good enough," "People don’t care," "Life is not fair." And now you feel down and discouraged, often hopeless. Instead of looking for a new job, you find excuses about why that won't work ("I am too old, and the job market sucks").

Now, since you are the host of all your mindsets, just like the owner of a cell phone, the most important decision you can make right now is to choose a different app for your brain to run! What if, when faced with a big decision, you think like a worthy, confident person, "There is something better for me because I deserve better." "I trust life because it always has my best interests in mind." "I have a choice as to how I think about this event, and I choose to feel empowered." "I don’t need to worry about how I’ll get another job, I just need to feel worthy of it." Now, your brain will release the chemicals of hope, inspiration, and clarity, opening your mind to new ideas and charting a course of action that matches your chosen mindset. Which app is running in your brain right now? If that's not the most significant decision, then I don't know what is.

Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., Hypnotherapist

Life is full of decisions, so knowing which choices are critical turning points helps smooth the process. When you decide to know yourself, your values, passions, and purpose, it will make the other tough choices like choosing a life partner, whether to have kids and so many others so much easier.

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Will Curtis is an associate editor at Yourtango.