Life is full decisions – “becharta bechaim” (choose life). And while decision making is a skill that can be strengthened and developed, it rarely happens. You get swept up in the emotions, meaning, potential consequences, and pressure of the decision. The result: you think only about the decision at hand, and not about the process of making the decision and how you are handling it.

Why is making a decision so challenging? Because there is no “perfect” option with only good points and benefits, and no downsides. Often, you face two equally good options, or two choices where each one offers a benefit you want, but it comes at the expense of something else. Therefore, the first step is to get clarity of the pluses and minuses, the gain and loss, presented by each decision. Some make a list.

What then emerges is a tug-of-war between what you stand to gain and what you have to give up to get it. This is the point that often causes the angst and seems insurmountable.

Moving on to the next step requires that you ask yourself about wants versus  needs. Look out for wants that you have convinced yourself are needs. Wants can be flashier and more exciting, yet also the reason the decision is unclear. A successful and satisfying decision demands that the available options are first viewed in terms of needs. That list made in step one should look a lot different after splitting up the pros and cons into needs and wants, and then comparing the two choices based on which best meets your needs.

But here’s an important piece: don’t throw out the wants. Instead, take some time to think about why you am having a hard time thinking about letting go of a particular want; or why it usually disguises and presents itself as a need.

Everything happens by Hashgacha Pratit (Divine Providence), for a definite reason, including this particular decision. The attraction each option presents, plus the difficulty you are experiencing in choosing, plus the accounting and self-assessment regarding wants and needs, is often a big part of the Divine plan for you; the reason why a particular decision came your way at a particular moment. It’s not just about the decision, it’s also about the self-awareness gained through the experience of making a particular decision that pushes you to check in with a particular set of wants and needs. And this is a list that continually changes as you grow and mature.

In other words, one of the ways you know and see that you are growing and maturing is by watching the way you approach decisions over time. Spending even a little bit of time thinking not only about the decision, but also the process of making the decision, will make you better prepared for, and helps you feel less overwhelmed at, the site of the next decision. Perhaps you’ll even welcome it with open arms since it bears the gift of greater self awareness.