How do you make critical, life changing decisions? A friend of mine was in a bad spot and needed to either stay in the relationship and make it work, or leave and rebuild her life. It was so bad that it was beginning to affect so much including her job. She was financially able to stand on her feet if she decided to leave yet she saw being unmarried as taking a giant step backwards. She couldn’t decide on what to do and was in limbo for a long time- which in my opinion is more torturous than whatever situation you’re in. Now, I realised as we spoke that she wanted me to tell her what to do. Here’s what I concluded from the scenario I found myself in, one Saturday afternoon:
1) The Burden of Responsibility Lies with the Decision Maker
People sometimes want to place the burden of the consequences of their actions on you when they ask you to decide for them. This is usually borne out of the fear of making the wrong move. Taking an important stance requires the confidence that you can handle the outcome of your own decision. It’s no one’s responsibility but yours to steer the course of your life except in the case of diminished responsibility where mentally or emotionally you are unable to fend for yourself. Do you find yourself running to pastors to have them tell you what to do or constantly asking your parents or boss for direction? I’m not suggesting that you shun wise counsel, rather be aware that all that people should help you do is see both options clearly if you’re unable to, thereby leaving you to make a better informed decision.
2) The Tail Wagging the Dog
We are prone to making decisions based on how much joy or pain it brings us. Most people don’t like pain and rather than weigh both options and make a logical decision, my friend wanted to avoid as much pain as possible. I assured her that both choices would involve pain. Sometimes it’s not about which one brings you less trouble, rather it’s about deciding which set of troubles you choose to deal with. Having that at the back of your mind helps you take charge of the decision making, as opposed to the situation calling the shots like the case of the tail wagging the dog.
3) In Quietness & Peace
Life is full of ups and downs, and although I make most of my phone calls while driving or while doing dishes, when it comes to serious situations you owe it to that matter to respectfully give it all of your attention. It is often said that you can’t work on a business while working in the business. If you’re at a critical juncture, take time away from the situation to think and plan it all out. Thinking about it while driving, while at work, or while with your significant other only disturbs your sense of peace as you churn it over and over and the conclusion you draw will not be a well-thought out one. You owe it to yourself to give the concern undivided attention- like you would if you were driving on unfamiliar roads and trying to find your way back home (without a sat nav).
4) Trust your intuition
Close your mind and ears to other people’s stories. No two people are the same so stop drawing parallels with your friend’s situation. Comparing ourselves with others can be unnerving as you hope for an outcome that’s similar to their seemingly positive one. Our paths are dotted with roses as well as thorns and we have the ability to navigate it well. Trust that God-given ability. Trust your intuition and don’t compare. It’s okay to be the only person you know that’s made the choice you’re considering making.
Journaling is one fail-safe way to sort out your thoughts. If your mind at this point can be compared to a jumbled up ball of different coloured threads, take them apart and lay each down on paper. That way you’d see that some of those thoughts are irrational, others are just different versions of the same strand and the rest you can objectively address. Seeing your thoughts on paper gives you the power to address them without being led by your emotions- emotions are powerful but make bad leaders.
How do you typically make difficult decicions? What has worked for you? Do share in the comments box below.