A major life decision is never a choice, but rather a realization that the decision has already been made. – Doug Cooper
We’re all faced with difficult decisions that we must make. Most of the time, we struggle over large, life-changing choices like ending a relationship, moving someplace new, leaving a job, starting your own business, getting married, and so on. It’s no surprise that these come with the stress and pressure of choosing the “right thing” – and even figuring out what that “right thing” is.
But even the seemingly smaller decisions can hold such a weight in our minds that makes it difficult to choose for even those. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide where to go eat for dinner, what clothes to wear today, whether or not you want to cut your hair, or if you should press snooze one last time.
I recently made yet another life-changing decision (because I somehow cannot get enough of these), and have decided to leave my job. I don’t need to share my ‘now what’ plan or explain why I chose this in order to get the point across that this was no easy decision to make. But, it was without a doubt, the right decision for me to make for myself, which is exactly why I did it.
The good news is that these decisions, no matter how big or small, don’t have to zap you of all your physical or mental energy. They don’t need to be so difficult that you can’t seem to think straight, or you make yourself ill over them.
Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.
So how do you know what the right choice is? From my very personal and very recent (2 days ago) decision to put in my notice, I want to share some advice. I would like to say that I flowed very effortlessly through these helpful tips for making difficult decisions less difficult, but it was not until after my decision was made that I then reflected upon the process. I thought about what it was like for me to go through the journey ultimately arriving at my decision, the extremes and messiness in between that I had experienced and felt, and how I could have made it a little easier on myself.
“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean
Here are my steps into making difficult decisions a little less difficult:
- Leave your emotions out of it
- Don’t ask for anyone else’s opinion
- Pretend you’re alone in the world and are in charge of the outcome
- Don’t ask Google and don’t read any articles telling you what you should do
- Don’t add in any additional decisions; no matter how small. For now, it’s just A or B.
The biggest favor I could have done for myself would have been to disengage from everything and everyone for just 10-15 minutes with no interruptions to just hear my own internal voice. What was it telling me I wanted or needed – not what did so-and-so think of it, not what will so-and-so think of it, not what did I fear about it, not what was the right way to decide this, not how will people think of me if I do this, and certainly not what would I do after this decision (that doesn’t matter quite yet). No. Had I been able to just think for a minute about what I wanted and why I wanted it, the decision would have been clearer a lot sooner and wouldn’t have caused me so much internal distress. It’s only when we allow our emotions to get in the way or allow ourselves to listen to others, that decisions become difficult for us to make.
And here is what not do after your decision has been made:
- Explain yourself or find a reason to justify it
- Put anymore thought into it
- Wonder if it was the right thing
The hard part is over. There is absolutely no need to be so hard on yourself or make it more difficult than it needs to be. Never be sorry for something that is right for you. Just like you are fully capable and entitled to make decisions for your own life, so is everyone else (and they do), so never apologize for yours. Also, instead of spending time thinking more about it, lay it to rest. I am only 2 days after making such a large decision, but I spent most of yesterday thinking about it, the conversation I had with my boss, what everyone else will think when I tell them, and if I did the right thing. I wish I hadn’t wasted my mental energy on those thoughts yesterday, because really, it doesn’t matter. I know it was a decision I needed to make and am happy I made because I feel a sense of relief and excitement, a sense of pride and bravery for doing it, and an entirely new sense of calmness as I stare into the face of the unknown.
So for anyone else out there facing a difficult decision, I hope this reaches you and helps you be more confident in what you already know to be the right decision for you. Stay true to yourself and your needs and believe that you are strong enough to get through anything. You’ve got this.