How do you resolve a dilemma?

Facing a dilemma can be destabilising and time-consuming. Should it be this option or that one?  A or B?  We might weigh the pros and cons, endlessly comparing them against each other and debating which is the better option.

When we get wrapped up in the debate of it, we can’t see the big picture of what is truly important. It becomes stressful. And it’s just not a good idea to make an important choice while in a stressed-out state.

So, instead of the soul-destroying debate…

Here are some different approaches that can help resolve a sticky dilemma. You can use them for yourself, a coaching client or your team.

Find a third option

Instead of focusing only on option A or B, consider option C.  This isn’t about mixing or compromising both options but finding a completely different possibility. This will introduce a bit of creativity and remove the tension between the original two options.

Recapture with what’s important

Revisit the purpose of the choice and what is important about it. Consider how your personal values, leadership principles or life purpose could inform the choice.

Get beyond fear

Sometimes a dilemma is created by competing fears. If you removed the fear from the equation, what do you see and which choice would you make? Among other things, fears could come from being afraid to make a wrong decision, fear of uncertainty and worrying about what others think. Many fears are powerful forces within decision making but ultimately meaningless.

Make it random

Find a way to make a random choice, for example, roll a pair of dice. If you get an even number choose option A and odd, choose B.

Remove the debate – try each option one at a time

And now my favourite approach, which requires a bit of time but also releases the time wasted on the debate.

Choose a significant amount of time for investigating the two options. Ideally, make it two weeks in total. But of course, if you don’t have that much time shorten it and allow the same amount of time for each option.

Randomly pick one of the options and tell yourself that this is the choice. Live with the idea that this is the choice for one week. Do not re-engage the either/or dilemma. The point is to let go of the stress of the debate and instead focus on this one choice.


  • How does it feel?
  • How does the world look from having made this choice?
  • What’s good about it? 
  • How well do you sleep at night?

Make some notes along the way and at the end of the week.

Then let that go completely and choose the second option, spending the same amount of time with it as you did the first. Ask yourself the same questions. Take notes along the way.

By the end of these two weeks, it’s likely that you will know which of these options is better for you.

The point of all these different paths is to get out of the stressful debate phase and to find another approach. 

Also consider these posts that may support great decision making:

Unlocking better decisions

Embrace Uncertainty

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