10 Simple Steps to Make Better Decisions — and Create a Better Life

It’s that time of year when you reflect on the past year and ponder what you want to make of the coming year. It’s time to make some big decisions about what you want your life to be like.

Regardless of what you have or haven’t achieved, each day is a new opportunity to change things.

Making decisions about the top one to three goals or intentions you set for yourself can be daunting so many people avoid it. But not you. You’re different. You’re one of those people who defies the odds and moves past a difficult past to create an amazing life.

If you think your circumstances are bad, do a little online search and you’ll find people who have come from situations worse than yours who have turned their lives around. There’s inspiration out there if you look for it.

But how do you know what you should focus on? How do you know what would truly move your life forward?

The process takes a little time, but you’re so worth it.

Find Your Focus

First, consider the areas of your life that aren’t where you would like them to be. Take a moment to rate each of the following areas on a scale of 1 (sucks) to 5 (amazing):

  • Relationships
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Career
  • Outside interests
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual

For all the 4’s and 5’s, give yourself a huge hug and celebrate! For the 3’s, consider whether it’s an area you want to work on now or in the future (after you’ve tackled any 1’s and 2’s). Put the 1’s and 2’s on your list to address. That’s where you’ll focus.

In each of the low-ranking areas you’re going to focus on, in a journal write out exactly why you feel that way. Specifically, what’s not going well, and how does that make you feel? Write it all down. Feel the feelings in your body, and write those down. Is there anger or frustration that creates a knot in your gut or chest? Is there sadness and regret that you feel in your heart? Get specific and write it down.

Expressing the specific feelings to yourself not only starts to break apart the blocked emotions but also helps you to see where you need to focus.

Now write your beliefs about those areas of your life. Your beliefs can lock you in a prison to which you already have the key. If you firmly believe that things outside of your control “make” your life the way it is, you’ll have a hard time making changes. If you believe that changing what you can control can change anything in your life, the sky is the limit.

What are your limiting beliefs? What are your empowering beliefs? How do each of these make you feel?

At this point, you may discover that you don’t want to focus on changing things in one of your life areas yet. You may choose to focus on changing your beliefs first.

Change your beliefs, change your life.

Create Your Future

Once you’ve decided where you want to focus, the next step is to fully understand what you want that area of your life to be like. What would make it a 5?

In your journal, write out in excruciating detail what an average day would be like, focusing on that area of your life. Where do you live? What is each room of your home like? What are the sights, smells and feelings of the place? Who do you spend your time with? What do you do in each hour of the day? Where do you go? What do you experience along the way? What do you eat? How do you feel? How do you move your body? And, most importantly, how does all of that make you feel?

Close your eyes and experience the feelings this vision creates for you. Sit with them for a bit.

Download your checklist for making better decisions.

A very important consideration at this point is whether all you’ve envisioned aligns with your core values. Do you know what your core values are?

Most people don’t ever stop to consider this, but it’s critical to your happiness.

What are the three to five most important things to you in life? These are the kinds of things that won’t change much over a lifetime. If you’re wondering what a ‘core value’ is, do a quick online search for ‘list of core values.’

Examine your life as it is. Write out everything you do each day, who you spend time with, how you spend your money, where you live and anything else you can think of. How does it support your values? How does it run counter to those values?

Go through everything you wrote and cross out what doesn’t support your values and what you wouldn’t want in your happier life. Drop the guilt and obligations and focus on what makes you happy.

Take Action

Nothing in your life will ever change until you take action.

Pick something small about your vision for your future life that you could start doing in the next 24 hours. Everything big and worthwhile happens in baby steps. What’s the first baby step you can take toward your vision — your future?

You could do some online research about a new job, career or vocation. Maybe you could connect with someone who is already doing what you dream of (people are much more accessible than you think). Watch some YouTube videos to learn something new. You can learn just about anything — for free — from YouTube videos and other online resources.

You don’t need to map out the entire path to your new life. Even if you did, it probably wouldn’t turn out the way you planned; and that’s a wonderful thing.

Be open to new opportunities. Be open to things not happening quite the way you expected (after all, expectations are the root of all evil).

If, after you start taking action on the choices you made, you’re not liking the results, simply make a different choice.

Regretting your last decision is living in the past which can’t possibly help you.

Be present to how things are playing out. If things aren’t working, don’t feel like you have to “stick to your guns” for the principle of it, because it might imply that you were wrong or because it might show (to others whose opinions don’t matter) that you lack commitment. That’s just silly. Do what works for you. Do what makes you happy.

Take some time every week or month to check in with yourself and reflect on how things are going. Change what’s not working. Do more of what is.

See the beauty in your new experiences. Be grateful for all the new things you’re learning. If things aren’t working out, be grateful that you’re one step closer to knowing what does work in your life.

If you want your life to be different, only you can make it happen. It’s no one’s fault that you are where you are. No one is going to come in and save you. It’s not anyone’s job to fix your life. It’s up to you and only you.

Download your checklist for making better decisions.

Paige Burkes has come to understand that we need to find more effective ways of achieving our versions of happiness and success. The traditional methodologies are no longer working for us. In fact, they’re making us more stressed and less happy by the day. Paige works with companies, entrepreneurs and individuals to find and create their personalized versions of success. You can read more of her ideas for increasing your own happiness and success at Simple Mindfulness.