Tough decisions? Listen to your gut

I didn’t want children. I had never been into them and I couldn’t see the point of having any, not really. It was for other people, not for me.

My girlfriend at the time did want children. This was a major disagreement. I had to make a tough choice: break up or accept to have children with her.

I couldn’t face losing her. In the end, I changed my mind and accepted to have children.

We all have to face difficult decisions in life. We also have to make small choices every day. We are scared about taking the wrong decision and regretting it.

So how do you go about making important decisions in your life?

My answer might surprise you: trust your gut feel.

There are a ton of methods that you can use to make decisions: The Kepner-Tregoe Matrix, the Pareto analysis, decision tree, cost-benefit or decision matrix analysis, etc. All these methods are useful.

But at the end of the day, after you have spent the time analyzing the situation, the pros and cons, you end up reverting to your gut feel. And once you have made a decision, through choice-supportive bias you will convince yourself that it was the right decision to make anyway.

So, spend time analyzing the situation. Dig deeper into the consequences of your decision. Get your head clear. Then trust your gut feel!

This is exactly what I did when I decided to have children. This is what I did when I decided to move to the UK to be with my girlfriend. This is also what I did when I took a job that meant moving back to Switzerland. And I believe that this is what most people do in the end.

Your gut tells you when something is not right, so when you are considering a decision that you might not feel right about, your gut is telling you so. For day-to-day decisions, trusting your gut is not something I would recommend (in that case, I recommend making decisions based on your goals, explained in more details here). But for important ones, definitely!

I have to put a word of warning here: in some exceptional cases, trusting your gut feel is not a good idea. If you have to make a decision in an area in which you have no knowledge, trusting your gut feel is likely to give you the wrong answer. For example, if you have to decide about making an investment and don’t know much about investing, you are at risk of making a very bad decision. You might be seduced by an enticing offer. Someone might have sold you a “great” investment that will lead you to loose money.

In that case, you should research more, get the information you need to make a decision. Ask experts in the field. Then do a cost-benefit or decision matrix analysis, for example. That means you can then make an informed decision.

The journey that followed my decision to have children has had its hurdles. I have had doubts along the way. But in the end, I am very happy to be with the woman I love and that we got a daughter together.

I trusted my gut feel. I’m glad I did. My daughter as well.

Do you trust your gut? Next time you have a hard decision to make, what are you going to do?

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