Here’s One Way To Make Tough Decisions

You know the type: Multiple choice, and not a clear winner. 🙂 I got this neat little trick while reading some Tony Robbins and let’s just say it will make all sorts of deliberations much easier for you.  

I was intentionally vague in the introduction because this you can apply to almost any really tough choice: 

Get clear on what you value

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And I mean what you value in general, in life.

What you perceive as being “most essential” to your sense of happiness.

Tony Robbins talks about the power of knowing your values in his book: Awaken The Giant Within:

“The only way we can ever feel happy and fulfilled in the long term is to live in accordance with our true values. If we don’t, we’re sure to experience intense pain.” -Tony Robbins, Awaken The Giant Within

And this takes me back to a discussion I had with my mom once.

I was telling her about some kids getting busted with alcohol and cigarettes at my school. Now, I might’ve been young(er) at the time but this led to a discussion about the dangers of substance abuse and the like. At one point in the conversation she mentioned that she was just happy that I hadn’t been involved. 

And I remember telling her:

“Well, I don’t know why they choose to do it, I just know I would never do it.”

It’s interesting to think about now. I think what I was saying was that I couldn’t see myself making those same choices, whatever the perceived “benefits” were to them. I didn’t (don’t) fully understand, I’m guessing it had something to do with wanting to feel included, social lubrication, maybe stress relief, or simply entertainment. The thing is, there’s other ways to achieve the same results. What you chose to compromise on depends on what you like, who you are, and what you value in life. I had (have) my own source for those benefits:

Hurray for video games helping me deal with the hardships of teenage and adult life in a perfectly non-productive yet safe way since 2003. 🙂

So clearly I didn’t care about being part of the “cool” crowd. 🙂

Some people would probably choose to be a little sick but well-loved and integrated than kind of lonely but in great shape.

Which situation you would choose says a lot about what you value.

I don’t think any one of these conditions is inherently better than the other, we all value different things to different degrees and that in itself is entirely fine.


So what do you value most?


Is it your health? The feeling of love and intimacy with people in your life? Your freedom? Your sense of personal accomplishment? What is it?

I guess we could also think about what we’re most grateful for.

Doesn’t making though choices really comes down to those things?

  1. Asking yourself what is most important to you
  2. Weighing the pros and cons against those personal values 

Choosing who you’re going to date, where you’re going to live, taking this or that other career path..etc

List it

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Yes, I’m inviting you to actually take the time to write out the life attributes you value, in order of their importance to you.

Listen, I know this sounds odd, and you almost never make decisions this way. But let me be the one to tell you, this is why you struggle to make up your mind about things! 🙂

The reason you’re “conflicted” is because you’ve never actually taken the time to clear the air for yourself.

But now you can, right here, right now. 🙂 

Come on, piece of paper (come on!), let’s start with a few common values from Robbins’ book:

  • Love
  • Success
  • Freedom
  • Intimacy
  • Security
  • Adventure
  • Power
  • Passion
  • Comfort
  • Health

Just a few values to get some ideas, you can add your own. 🙂

Here’s a quick way for you to make the decisions that will lead to the final list:


You treat it as a tournament in which each value is a contender


Listen, if you’re not going to do this at some point then you’ve pretty much wasted your time reading this article so far. Some ideas make your life better just by being in your head, and this isn’t one of them..

This idea will not change your life because you read about it, it will change your life because you read about it, and made yourself try.


It’s easy to understand how someone with “Freedom” at the forefront of their mind would make different choices than someone who puts “Security” above all else.


Good? Bad? It depends on what you value most.
Good? Bad? It depends on what’s most valuable to you.

I’m pretty sure all of us value freedom and security. I’m sure we would all rather have both in our lives. However, because the world is not perfect, we’re often forced to choose. Just think about the times we know of that civil rights have been violated in the name of public safety or national security. 

With that added self-awareness you not only gain insight on your current behavior, but you create a situation where seemingly difficult choices become easy. It comes back to keeping that one question in mind: “What do I value most?”

For example: My list contains 14 values, security was #3 on that list, and freedom was #5.

Knowing that (for myself) how hard do you think it’s going to be for me to take stances and make choices that involves those two aspects of life in society? 

Probably about 0.2 seconds.

See tough choices aren’t so tough when you’re clear on what you want and what you don’t want. You make it snappy. But it’s only snappy because you’ve figured it out already.

Now, of course things aren’t always that cut and dry. Sometimes you’re going to have to consider other factors or other people, context,, circumstances…etc That’s why I’m calling this just one way to make tough decisions. It’s just a tool, an aid. And one that you can definitely use when getting your cake and eating it too, is not possible. 

You’ll be happy you did it. 🙂 

( I wrote a PART 2 to this article)

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