We make them every day: what to eat for breakfast, what to wear to work, how many cups of coffee to drink to keep us awake until it’s time to go home.
Our lives are full of decisions we don’t even notice we’re making. They’ve become subconscious acts requiring little thought.
But every now and then, we’re faced with making a potentially life-changing decision such as moving relationships forward (getting engaged, getting married, divorce), pursuing new job opportunities (quitting, accepting a promotion), changing directions (moving, starting a family). These kinds of decisions require significantly more effort and consideration. They’re not easily made because of the fear of making an impulsive choice or the wrong choice and then having to live with constant regret.
So how do we move past that? How does one move past the fear and evaluate these decisions without getting trapped in the void of indecision?
Tell me what you want, what you really, really want
The Spice Girls were onto something–sort of. (And not sorry, for getting that song stuck in your head!).
The first thing to figure out when you’re faced with making a tough decision is: What is it that you really want?
Every decision you make should always honour your best interests, right down to the smallest details. You should make choices that reflect and stand in line with your goals and passions. What’s the point of doing something that’s not going to get you any closer to your biggest dreams and may ultimately keep you from truly enjoying your life?
The answer to that is simple – there is no point. Why follow a path leading away from a fulfilled life? Life is much too short for that kind of detour. If that’s the path you’re on then let’s talk.
Unlike the boys from Trooper, we’re in this life for the long haul, which is something to keep in mind when contemplating what direction to take in making a tough decision.
How will your choice affect you, not only today, but also in a year, or in a couple of years? If you’ve got a five year plan for your life, will the decision you make today help you move towards those goals?
When making life-altering decisions, it’s best not to act on impulse. Let peaks of emotions (anger, depression, excitement) subside slightly before allowing them to completely alter your final decision. Make time to really weigh the pros, cons, and long-term effects of your options. If you feel influenced by peers, family, or even the little voices inside your head… don’t be afraid to listen to them briefly, but dismiss them if they’re not in line with what you truly want to pursue.
What you choose to wear today or what you choose to eat for breakfast may not have a significant impact on your life’s journey down the road, but bigger decisions definitely have the potential to create long-lasting effects and can change your path drastically. So make space to truly evaluate your wants and needs alongside the choices you have.
If you’re feeling stuck in the moment…
“If your way should falter along the stony pass, it’s just a moment – this time will pass.” That’s what Bono taught us once upon a time.
If you’re feeling nervous about all the what-ifs and but-maybes that ride on what you ultimately decide, know you’re not alone. It isn’t uncommon for people to feel extremely anxious about making personal decisions. Sometimes the anxiety keeps people in unsatisfactory situations because they can’t overcome the uncertainty that comes with making big changes.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the future to make sure you always make the ‘right’ decision. But here’s the truth: making a decision, even if it doesn’t work out the way you thought it might, will always be better than doing nothing at all because at least you’re taking one step forward. And if it doesn’t work out or it doesn’t make sense, you will have gained some clarity on what you don’t want, which shines a light on what you do want. And–remember–you can always change directions!
This is your life, and you get to decide what happens. Just remember to think with your head and follow your heart.
I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!