By Zoe Ruderman | Cosmopolitan – Mon, 14 Jan 2013
Jennifer Lawrence is now a household name after she accepted the lead role in The Hunger Games movies, based on the best-selling novels by Suzanne Collins. But, even though she knew playing tough-girl Katniss Everdeen would make her career, Jennifer recently confessed that she waited for three days to accept the role because she was stressed about how it would change her life.
Like Jennifer, we all have to make tough decisions. Sure, they might not involve accepting an offer to star in a sure-to-be blockbuster movie, but making any big big move is freaky. Follow these expert tips to guarantee the next decision you make will be the best one for you.
1. Go with Your Gut
A study found that when making simple choices (like what cereal to buy), it pays to be rational. But when it comes to bigger ones (like which job to take), you’re better off listening to your instincts. That’s not to say you should buy a car on a whim, but if you have weighed the pros and cons and still can’t reach a conclusion, let your snap judgment be the tiebreaker and go with what just feels right.
2. Put Down the Mojito
There’s a reason Google Mail Goggles was invented: Cocktails make it easier to act. Although one drink can relax you while you’re agonizing over a choice, more than that can cloud your judgment.
3. Sleep on It…but Just for One Night
Researchers say unconscious deliberation (i.e., getting shut-eye) can help you analyze your options and come to a conclusion, which is why people will often tell you to sleep on it. However, belaboring a decision for too long means you aren’t comfortable with any of the choices you have before you and you need to consider alternatives.
4. Get into a Stress-Free State
Go for a haircut right after you are laid off and you could wind up looking less than amazing. The reason being, we tend to act rashly when we’re nervous or upset. Research suggests that anxiety not only makes it more difficult to settle on something but also actually makes you more likely to come to the wrong conclusion. So if you’re fighting with your boyfriend while choosing between two apartments, try to resolve the disagreement quickly so you can make a more clearheaded resolution. And since one study found that stress has a residual effect, wait a few days after you’ve kissed and made up before forking over your security deposit.
5. Talk It Over with a Select Few
Chatting about your predicament with close friends, your mom, or whomever you trust to give an honest opinion is a good idea. Hashing out your options allows you to further process the decision, and hearing others’ perspectives (whether you agree with them or not) can help you arrive at a more informed – and better – conclusion.
6. But Avoid Discussing It with Everyone
So you know that running your decision past a few key people in your life is smart. But it’s best to keep your hairstylist, trainer, and barista out of it. Soliciting too many opinions – especially from people who don’t know you that well – can leave you with lots of conflicting (not to mention bad) advice. Before seeking someone’s opinion, ask yourself if the person is really in a position to know what’s best for you. If the answer is no, keep it to yourself.
7. Consider the Long-Term Consequences
Some decisions make short-term sense but in the long run can be disastrous. For example, telling your guy you cheated on him once three years ago may relieve your guilt, but it will probably cause him to break up with you. Similarly, doing things like sitting in the sun or having unprotected sex often can feel right in the moment, but these toxic behaviors have serious health ramifications.
A good rule of thumb: Play out each possible scenario in your mind…and consider the outcome (on your health, on a friend’s or boyfriend’s feelings, on your credit-card bill – whatever) before making a controversial move.
8. Don’t Leave It Up to Chance
It can be dangerous to make a major, life-changing choice based on what your horoscope instructs you to do. While it’s definitely fun to let these things influence small decisions (which dress to wear on a date, if you should ask out a guy), the bigger stuff (dumping your boyfriend, moving across the country) should not be left up to the stars.
9. Blow Off Bullies Who Are Pressuring You
When grappling with a decision, it can be easy to be swayed in one direction by someone who has self-serving motives – whether it’s a salesperson talking you into buying a pair of shoes you can’t afford or your parents being all up in your grill about going to a particular grad school. Distance yourself from the person or people pressuring you while you sort out your thoughts. And if that’s not possible, pretend you’re advising a friend on the matter, which will help you act more logically and guilt-free.
10. Remember That You Can’t Always Use the Past to Predict the Future
Especially when you’re making a choice that will seriously affect your bank account or lifestyle, it’s important not to rely simply on experience. In our rapidly changing world, experts recommend assessing each new opportunity with a fresh mind-set. What might have been a shrewd move a few years ago – like buying a house or leaving your 9-to-5 gig to start up your own business – could wreak havoc on your life today.