When big decisions loom, it’s often easy to get stuck ruminating all the possible ways to proceed, how it might go wrong, or get confused by taking on too much external advice and input.

Of all the ways you might act, which is the best? Which of all the possibilities should you choose?

Putting ethics at the centre of your thinking can help. It offers a framework for evaluating life’s difficult decisions, which invariably involve questions about what’s good and what’s right.

These five steps can help you move toward a solution that is in alignment with your purpose, values and principles.

1. Check in with your body

Take a moment to drop into your body. Often, we rush headlong into considering without pausing to reflect on how we feel. Our emotions play a major role in our decisions – both consciously and unconsciously. Stop for a moment and pay attention to your feelings; what are they telling you about what matters most?

You may not unlock immediate clarity, and that’s ok. Just begin by recognising and labelling the emotions that arise. Often these feelings are a compass pointing you to what matters most to you.

2. Question your assumptions and identify the facts.

Often when we feel uncertain, it’s because we are lacking information that is required to make a considered decision. What do you know about the choice in front of you? Write down all the facts that you know about your options.

Now test your thinking. Is there anything you are assuming to be true that may not be? Bracket fears or other people’s opinions for a moment and just focus on what you know to b be true. Be aware of jumping to any conclusions around the circumstance, people involved or potential outcomes.

By looking at the situation more objectively, you can identify what you actually know, and what you need to know. Now ask yourself: do you have all the facts and information that you need to make an informed decision? If there are gaps, write a list of the questions you need answers to, and seek the information that you need to have more factual data to consider.

3. Consider how the options relate to your values.

It’s time to get clear on what matters most to you. That is the key to unlocking your values. Our values are like signposts, they indicate what’s most important to us. It can help to consider the situation through the lens of what you consider most ethically relevant, starting with values that matter most to you such as honesty, transparency, kindness, or integrity. Your values also reflect what you stand for, desire or seek to protect, such as financial security, freedom, creativity, family or community for example.

4. What are the lines you won’t cross?

Next, bring into consideration your principles. If values are the signposts, then principles are the guide rails that keep us on track. They apply to the pursuit of many different types of goals and help when values conflict with one another. Principles can’t be selectively applied. Once adopted, they apply to every decision.

You may value success but not lying or cheating is a solid principle to guide how you achieve success.

You might have just a handful of principles that you personally live by. Check in to make sure that the decision you make doesn’t cause you to cross any of those guide rails.

5. Decide on what matters, and why.

Unpack all of the reasons you might decide in each way and with all of the information on the table – rule out any option that moves you away from your purpose, values and principles, and ultimately, seek out the decision that best aligns with them.


Decision-making is complex at the best of times. But sometimes life can present us with a choice where there is no right option – or where both pathways are wrong. When those moments strike it can feel impossible to find a pathway forward.

You don’t have to navigate it alone. Ethi-call is a free helpline designed to provide structured support and guidance through those very difficult decisions.

Appointments are with trained ethics counsellors who take you through a series of questions that will help clarify the situation and shine a light on what is most important to you.

Make a booking at www.ethi-call.com.