Life is filled with decisions. From the minute you wake up until you finally slip into the abyss of sleep, your brain is helping you to make choices that propel you forward, keep you safe, and bring you pleasure. This all works well, until you are confronted with a tough decision.

I’m not talking about a next hour decision, like “should I have a latte or an iced coffee?” I am talking about one of those big life decisions that can alter the foreseeable future; a next decade decision like “should I get a cat?”

Our youngest daughter was recently confronted with a cat decision. It had been recommended, for various reasons, that she get a therapy pet. It was a big decision for us to agree to a grand-pet — we know how the pet story can end; kid gets a pet, all is fine, then the situation changes. It could be a great job some place with long hours, a new partner who is allergic to said pet, or the perfect apartment that doesn’t allow pets. It is always even odds that the grand-pet could end up living with us, so we had to be fully on board.

Actually, a lot of things had to be right, before a cat could be introduced into our daughter’s life; the right living situation, roommates who were okay with a cat, a manageable schedule, and, most importantly, the right cat.

Adopting a pet is a lot like dating. You need to be really clear about what you are looking for, meet the prospects, and not be swayed by a pretty face. Like dating, there are a lot of eligible pets available to be adopted into forever homes. Our daughter did her homework. She was working with a reputable agency that matches kitties with good homes, she cleared things with her roommates, got the okay from her landlord, and consulted with us. She was ready.

Sometimes the fear of making the wrong choice or decision, completely derails our innate ability to know what is truly best for us. We become consumed with what if scenarios. Suddenly, up goes the stress level, down goes intuitive ability, and we become trapped in indecision. The longer it takes to make a decision, the more second guessing comes in to play.

Our daughter was across the country, excited to find her perfect feline soulmate, and completely paralyzed by the process. Every cat was adorable, needed a loving home, and seemed like it could be a good fit. We had to help her devise a plan for sorting through all the cuteness, beat decision fatigue, and find the “right” cat.

There are things that can make the decision-making process easier, less stressful and more expeditious. Great decisions are rarely made under pressure. Establishing your decision-making environment may be as important as the decision itself; so take the proper steps to make sure you create the best environment possible to give yourself the greatest opportunity to get the best outcome.

Here are 5 things that can make the decision-making process more productive.

  • Be well rested. Important decisions deserve a relaxed and clear mind. Sometimes, you literally have to sleep on it.
  • Make important decisions early in the day. Make decisions early in the day before other activities demand your attention and focus.
  • Eat before deciding. Being hungry or thirsty (or “hangry”) will influence your ability to make a good decision. Be well fed and well hydrated before making decisions.
  • Don’t feel rushed or pressured by others. Never make a decision simply because you feel pressure to do so. That rarely ends well.
  • Give yourself a deadline for making a decision. It is important to give yourself a reasonable deadline for making important decisions. Too much time is as detrimental as feeling too rushed. Make a list of pros and cons, get advice from a trusted advisor, ask the right questions and go with your gut.

By taking her time, not feeling rushed, making a list of each cat’s positive and negative traits, our daughter was able to make the right decision. “Mouse” is a little Russian Blue feline who has an easy going personality, lovely short fur, likes other cats and people, loves his new home and has stolen all of our hearts. This was a big decision and it has turned out really well for our daughter, Mouse and for us.

May all of your decisions be good ones.

I am a passionate advocate for food as medicine, life navigator and culinary coach. This is my space for sharing what excites, inspires and motivates me to live my best life. It began as a recipe blog for nourishing, simple, weekday meals and has become something much bigger… a guide to resilient wellness. I am excited to share my knowledge of how daily habits can cumulatively help you to live like you mean it and age like you want to.