Over the course of our lives we all will stand at a fork in the road more often than we realize, pausing to decide which direction to take or decision to make. Some of those decisions are easy to choose because they are clear paths where we are relatively certain we know how it will play out.
“Should I choose the donut or the fruit to have for breakfast if I want something healthy?”
Some of those paths are difficult, perhaps even scary to choose because we just aren’t sure what awaits us around the bend.
“Should I relocate for a job I love or stay in my hometown with the people I love?” That may not be so clear.
I watched an interesting TedTalk on YouTube presented by philosopher Ruth Chang about why some decisions are hard to make. She talked about the fact that easy decisions are easy because there is an obvious choice that’s better, whereas hard choices are hard because we are comparing two choices where there’s not a clear winner. Not everything is based on science and numbers and when our values and desires get added into the mix, the comparison between two choices can become murky for sure.
Let’s use the example, ‘Should I become an artist or an accountant?’ Sometimes that’s an easy decision; I love art and don’t like numbers so an artist it is. But then something else gets thrown into the mix like ‘How am I going to support myself and my family?’ Society tells us we have a better chance of supporting our family by becoming an accountant rather than an artist. So now what? Her thoughts led to the belief that the hard decisions aren’t burdens, but rather opportunities for us to choose what’s important to us. I completely agree!
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to help make those decisions that don’t have a clear winner:
1. KNOW WHAT FEEDS YOUR SOUL
I place this as number one because in my experience it is THE most important measuring stick for making decisions. When we stray away from what our soul needs and stop nourishing it, it begins to wither, takes us to places we don’t want to be and eventually leads us to becoming numb or miserable, ugh.
When we make choices that are in alignment with what our soul needs, those things that inspire us and lift us up, we grow to becoming our best self and live in gratitude, beauty and abundance, leading us to nurture and enjoy healthy relationships and to think beyond ourselves. That sounds wonderful to me!
2. CHECK IN WITH A HIGHER POWER
In order to know if you’re feeding your soul, you need to pause and sit quietly to know if this choice feels right. Pray, meditate, and listen to what your Higher Power and your intuition is
telling you. Sometimes it’s fun to ask for signs and see what shows up. It may be a song lyric, an actual sign, or something someone says to you that confirms your choice.
3. EVALUATE THE PROS and CONS
Take out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, label the left column PROS and the right column CONS and start writing! Once you have everything listed take a look and evaluate. Make this list for each of your choices and see which looks like the best choice on paper. Does your intuition agree with it? I have found that Intuition, staying in alignment with what feeds my soul, is the absolute better choice for me, whether or not it looks like it on paper.
4. BOUNCE IT OFF OTHERS
Choose two or three people whose opinion you respect and ask them if they would be willing to give you input regarding your options and which choice you’re leaning toward. Do they feel it’s the best option for you? Listen to their concerns as well as their encouragements.
Also try to find one person who has already made the choice you’re thinking of making and find out what their results have been, plus and minus.
Don’t take this to the extreme though! If you get too many opinions it clouds the decision even more. Once you get into the habit of decision making, you’ll have to use this step less and less, because when it comes down to it, nobody knows what’s best for you better than you.
Cautionary Note: be sure to stay in alignment with what feeds your soul. You’re only asking others for their input to see if there’s something you haven’t thought of, not to sway your decision one way or the other.
5. USE MIND GAMES
The healthy kind! Pretend that you have a friend who is faced with this decision. Think of them coming to you and asking your opinion of what they should do. What questions would you ask them? What concerns or encouragement would you offer to them? This can sometimes help to set our personal emotion to the side for a minute so we can give ourself some good input.
Another interesting game is to write both decisions down, each on a separate piece of paper; fold them up, place them in a bowl, mix them up and draw one. This is not done to act upon the one you draw, but rather to pay close attention to how you feel while you’re drawing one . . . is there one you’re hoping you draw, or maybe one you’re hoping you don’t? It can be very telling!
6. GATHER HEALTHY INFORMATION
Knowledge empowers you, too much knowledge can keep you frozen. In other words, educate yourself to a healthy level regarding each choice, but don’t go into overload. Too much information can bog us down and keep us stuck in the energy of making no decision. Science has proven that when we don’t have all the information, our brains try to fill it in, often overestimating it’s value. If the choice you make is the path that is unclear and there are things you don’t know about it, but it’s the one that feels right, that’s okay. In actuality, there’s no way to know everything about either path.
7. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
When you feel you’re leaning toward one choice over another, take a moment and close your eyes. Envision what your life will look like. Picture getting up in the morning and living the decision you made. How does it make you feel? If it brings up a lot of positive feelings, you’re on the right track.
8. BE THE DECISION
Once the decision is made . . . do it, be it, own it. Don’t look back and second guess your decision. You made the decision for a reason, hopefully it was the one that was most in alignment with what feeds your soul. Trust yourself, you’ve got this!