Everyone has decisions to make. You might be conflicted between two jobs – one you would love to do but doesn’t pay as much as the other. You may be deciding to buy a house or a car but there are so many options to choose from. You also may be thinking about that next big project.

How does one even start before getting distracted by doubts and self-insecurity?

The easiest prerequisite of a decision is doing the research and organise

As human beings, we are inclined to make a decision based on something that is apparent, safe or tangible. Our intellect exists to guide us from making mistakes, based on ones which can be presented in the form of facts and figures.

Perhaps we find guidance by learning from other people’s experiences or mistakes so we would feel convinced enough to evolve to the next stage. Research is an essential step and should be considered first before thinking about what to do next.

Organise your thoughts and don’t make a rushed decision.

Despite facts, we tend to follow our gut-feeling

Sometimes, we have already done detailed research and some appropriate actions to ensure that we would make the right decision. But our hunch is so strong that it may convince us to do the otherwise. We might have all the calculated facts which are in sync with our logical mind but there is something that is holding us back – a gut-feeling that may take us back to square one.

This isn’t irrational as research has shown that decision-making is a more emotional experience rather than it is logical; we are driven by what we feel more than facts and evidence. In fact, emotions are so crucial to the decision-making process that we wouldn’t be able to make one without it.

But, maybe it is self-doubt and insecurity that has led us to the other side of the spectrum. Maybe we haven’t put enough faith in ourselves for the fear of failure. So, how do we reconcile?

Istikharah prayer is the deciding factor

Istikharah comes from the word “khayr” that is representative to all that is good. It is a two-raka’ah voluntary prayer prescribed for people who are in a dilemma. There are misconceptions where some people perceive istikharah as a prayer that would “light the bulb” without us making an effort in the first place. First, do some research – as I mentioned above. Then, seek for help and opinions from experts. Only after these two steps, we are supposed to pray istikharah.

“Istikharah is not a magic 8 ball” – Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda

In other words, istikharah doesn’t simply solve our dilemmas. It’s not meant to give you a green light or answer any uncertainties with a simple “yes” or “no”. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes and the path would be a smooth one.

It is a compass that would eventually lead us to the direction that is meant for us – the good, the bad and everything that is tailored to the destination. We should pray repeatedly until we achieve full confidence and assurance that the path that we are pursuing is meant for us.

As millennials, we are privileged to have the time to think about “what to do with our lives” while some of our parents never had the chance to chase their dreams or to even think about it. We should take the opportunity to the fullest but also not be reckless when it comes to making decisions. I mean, it’s not a new thing but sometimes, it’s nice to be reminded that our lives are not merely based on facts, feelings, and efforts but some unspeakable miracles. We need some divine intervention from the Al-Hakeem (The All-Wise).

So, if you are planning a business or pursuing an unconventional career: always remember that we are in control of our actions but we are not in full control of our fate. With all the efforts that you have put in and Bismillah in your heart, the decision that you’ve been holding back would already be at the tip of your tongue.


Syaza is a freelance writer whose life revolves around coffee, cats and heartwarming stories.