When faced with a big decision, you’ve probably heard the same cliché statements time and time again. And you know that all of them usually lead to someone looking you in the eyes and saying, “Follow your heart.”
And because you’ve heard these over and over again, you probably never take them too seriously. But I’m going to blow your mind and tell you that this might be the best guidance you’ve ever received.
Cliché sayings are cliché for a reason—they’re helpful. Don’t believe me? I’m going to break down three of the most common and show you how to use them to your advantage the next time you have a tough decision to make. And after I’m done, you might think twice before laughing off your mom’s cheesy advice.
1. “Trust Your Gut”
Not sure what your gut really is? Doubt its existence?
Well, I’m here to tell you your gut is a real thing. According to Fast Company, rationality, emotion, and the physical body are all key factors when making a decision—creating what you’d call a “hunch” or a “gut feeling.” This is not only a physical response, but a reminder of past experiences: “You don't just remember facts, whether the outcome was good or bad, but you remember whether what [you] felt was good or bad,” says Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California. “That tandem of fact and associated emotion is critical: What we construct as wisdom over time is actually the result of cultivating that knowledge of how our emotions behaved and what we learn from them.”
Basically, your head and heart are a lot wiser than you think. So the next time that indescribable feeling comes over you, listen to it and talk it out—with a family member, a friend, a colleague, or even yourself. Chances are high that after you think through what’s triggering your gut, you’ll understand why you’re having that reaction. And that knowledge can help steer you faster toward the right decision.
2. “Make a Pros and Cons List”
I can almost guarantee that 99% of the time when someone suggests you make a pros and cons list, you don’t actually sit down and do it. Well, I’m here to convince you otherwise.
There’s a reason why this concept exists. And it’s because every decision has an advantage and disadvantage, more often than not, more than one. Whether you’re choosing between applying to two
jobs at the same company or trying to decide if you should change careers—examining it from both sides should make a few things more clear to you. So, what once seemed like a toss-up, could now have a very clear winner.
And, odds are that after you literally list out your pros and cons, you’ll learn more about what really matters to you in this decision, as well as how heavily you weigh certain advantages and disadvantages.
3. “Bite the Bullet”
Business Insider calls this one of the “no-no” lines to say in the office. Granted, this makes sense because we no longer have to literally “bite bullets” for pain relief.
But there’s some truth to it. Tough decisions are hard to make, and yet you have to face them regardless. The further you get in your career, the more this will happen. So, the worst thing you can do is let your fear keep you from making any decision at all.
Therefore, I recommend “biting the bullet” when necessary, a.k.a., making a game time decision, and going after something that is new, scary, or challenging—despite how crazy it might seem.
Muse writer Richard Moy wrote a great article highlighting what you’ll learn by taking a risk:
“Saying yes will often yield you much better results in the long run. Even when—no especially when—saying no’s easier... Sometimes saying yes to an opportunity that could threaten your [financial] peace-of-mind or any other comforts you have are often the ones you should jump on ASAP.”
Moral of the story? It could be the best decision you ever made.
So the next time someone throws you one of these cliché lines (or any other ones I may have missed), thank them for the advice—because they’ve given you a lot to think about.What’s your favorite cliché? Tweet me!
Photo of signs courtesy of Shutterstock.
As an Associate Editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.More from this Author