Do you consider yourself a decisive person? Or, do you struggle to make choices for yourself—whether they’re big or small?
Many of us (myself included!) fall into that second category, and there’s no doubt that it can be somewhat paralyzing.
Fortunately, science is here to help. According to research published in Psychological Science, there’s one super easy trick that can help you make decisions for yourself: Pretend that you’re actually making them for a friend.
It’s called self-distancing, and it totally removes you from the equation—helping you to make more sound judgments about certain situations.
As part of the research, Igor Grossman at the University of Waterloo and his team conducted a study of 100 different participants who were all in long-term relationships. One group of the subjects was asked to imagine that they had been cheated on, while another group was told to imagine that a friend had been cheated on.
At that point, all of the participants filled out a questionnaire designed to measure their “wise reasoning” skills—things like their ability to consider multiple perspectives or pursue a compromise.
The results? The study subjects who were thinking about a friend demonstrated far better judgement and sounder reasoning than those who were imagining themselves in that scenario.
While the study looked at relationships specifically, this advice holds some water in other areas of your life as well—including your career. And, it’s a tactic that I’ve already been putting to work to combat my own chronic indecisiveness.
So, the next time you feel torn over whether to quit your job, go after that career change, or toss your hat into the ring for that promotion, step outside of yourself and think about what you would tell a friend in your exact same situation. You might just be surprised with your own reasoning and wisdom.
TopicsSucceeding on the Job , Decision Making , Syndication , Communication , Tools & Skills , The Muse Editor's Picks , Candidate Experience: Decision Pending
Photo of person in meeting courtesy of Gary Burchell/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author