Sunday, January 31, 2010
Big Decisions: Making Them Without Regret
Every day we have decisions to make -- what to wear, what to eat, how to spend our time. Some decisions are no-brainers. You make your choice, and even if it's not the best decision, the potential consequences are rarely worth breaking a sweat. Then there are the BIG decisions. Should I move? Which job offer will be best? Am I in the right relationship? Sometimes the elements of a big decision are so complicated that your brain gets muddled, and confusion and indecision grip you like a vice. You're languishing in Limbo Land, frozen like a deer in headlights.
You just want a voice from the heavens to shout down instructions and tell you what path to take. "Hey you, take that job in Miami. You'll be much happier!" So far, that's never happened for me, although there are many voices on terra firma offering input and suggestions.
When I've had to make big life decisions, I've learned to take several practical steps infused with a big dose of emotional guidance. In other words, I start with my head but also listen to my heart. Here are some steps to help you make a big decision and hopefully not look back with regret.
1. Have a Life Vision
A life vision should be the foundation and reference point for every decision you make. In my next blog, I will write more about creating a life vision. For now, realize that you need to know yourself and your values, the lifestyle you want, your life purpose or goals, and what really brings you joy and fulfillment. If you deviate from this vision, it will cause you eventual pain and regret. Evaluate your choices based on your vision. Which one is in closest alignment with your vision?
2. Write Down the Pros and the Cons
Consider the possible positive and negative aspects or consequences of your decision. Write down a list of pros and cons for each possible alternative. Then prioritize these points with the most important considerations at the top of the list.
3. Phone a Friend
Carefully select two or three trusted friends whose opinion and judgment you value. Tell them about your life vision, show them your list of pros and cons and ask for their input about your decision. Someone who is removed from the turmoil of the decision and who has a different perspective can help you see things in a clearer light.
4. Invoke a Higher Power
Go to a quiet place. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Go within. Pray or meditate (or whatever feels right to you) and ask for guidance. Your own inner wisdom and intuition will often rise to your conscious mind when you calm the mental chaos of over thinking your decision. Give it a few days. You may be surprised that the answer presents itself unexpectedly.
5. Try the Coin Trick
I love this idea, because it puts you in touch with you real desires. Grab a quarter and assign one decision choice to heads and the other to tails. Flip the coin, and before it lands, pay attention to side you hope it lands on. More than likely, this is what you truly want to do. Something in your heart is pulling you in that direction. Examine this result carefully, because even if the choice conflicts with all of the practical considerations, you may be dishonoring your deepest desires.
6. Don't Look Back
If you have done the work, honored your vision, examined the pros and cons, sought guidance, and connected with your intuition, then make your choice and don't look back. There are millions of paths that we can take in a lifetime, all leading to different opportunities and problems. Once you are on this new adventure, have confidence that you have made the best decision with the information available, and move forward with a spring in your step. There is something good to be learned on every path we follow.