What do you really want to do?

I think sometimes the fear we have of making the wrong choice is really just a sign that our mind is not clear. On the flipside, when you’re mind is not clouded over with stuff you’re able to be more spontaneous and quick thinking with your choices.

More often than we realise we know exactly what to do. However, we allow our thoughts to get carried away and we engage them even when we know it’s not helpful.

Maybe you want to pursue your love of baking but then you let your mind wonder. You start to think about money, what your friends will think, your parents being disappointed, people not getting it, worrying you’ll regret leaving your stressful well paying job, you tell yourself maybe baking is just a hobby or a fantasy career and you wonder if you’re good enough. The thoughts go on until you’ve talked yourself out of making a decision.

You now spend the coming months or even years trying to decide what to do. The truth is you’re just putting off doing exactly what you know you want to do.

It gets easier

Letting go can be scary, terrifying in fact. But, once you start doing it and especially if you start with something big, it gets a lot easier.

This happens because you realise that you’re completely fine without the thing you thought you needed.

However, when you’re caught up in the moment going back and forth over whether not not to let something go. it’s difficult. Sometimes no amount of reassurance and advice is enough to make you believe that things will turn out okay.

Perhaps, you believed that your whole world would implode, that you’d be miserable or that nothing good better could come into your life. And maybe you do feel that way for a little while after but then things will start to change. Eventually you’ll find yourself pretty happy with your decision, a weight will have been lifted off your shoulders and maybe you’ll even wish you’d made the choice to let go sooner.

There is no right decision

Many people feel a lot of anxiety when it comes to making decisions.

I’ve written quite a few posts about the anxiety that can be felt around making decisions, choosing pathways and picking between different options.

One of my beliefs when it comes to making decisions that I created a few years ago is that, either way things will turn out fine. It’s not a case of there being a good and bad option but instead choosing a path or experience.

That’s something I would say to anyone picking between two options but I also like to remind myself of that when I have to make choices.

There are some situations where it might seem like there is a clear good option, let’s say for example it is the choice to spend the day at home or have a day out in in a new city.

Your initial thought may be that staying home is boring and going out is the obvious choice. However, maybe when you stay home you end up doing a bunch of things that you’ve been putting off for weeks or months. You end up decluttering your space, tidying up and just refreshing your space so that feels a little more vibrant and a little more you.

Perhaps if you choose to go out, you’ll end up seeing some cool places, spend time with friends and eat some good food. So, either way you still have a good day.

The idea of things turning out fine no matter which option you choose came from the fact that making choices can often be difficult and I wanted to find a way to make it easier. My fear was always making the wrong decision and so I’ve worked to find a way to eliminate that and suddenly making around decisions isn’t as difficult as it used to be.

Short-term pros

When making a decision you might find yourself making a pros and cons list.

The choice you make in the end is likely to be based on whether the cons make the benefits worth it.

But sometimes we focus too much on the short-term. Making a particular decision might be great right now, great in 6 months and even great in a year. However, in 2 years or 5 years it will end up being something you regret.

Or, perhaps we allow short-term pros to outweigh long-term cons.

It could be taking a job where you earn way more money but isn’t in a field you want to progress in. Maybe the alternative was a job in the field you’re interested in but you passed it up because the salary is lower and the commute is longer.

In the short-term you’re earning more money and you’re journey to work is shorter. But in the long-term you’re progressing in a job you don’t want to be in which probably means you’re not as happy as you could be.

On the flipside, if you’d chosen the other job in the short-term you’re salary would be lower and your commute would be longer. However in the long-term, your salary will increase, you’re progressing in field you’re interested in, you may choose to move closer to work and have a shorter commute or perhaps you now work from home 2 or 3 days a week and best of all you’re happier.

Yes or no questions

All decisions about whether or not you should do something come down to yes or no questions.

Should I move to another city?

Should I cut my hair short?

Should I ask him out to dinner?

The questions on their own are simple but when we add in context, feelings and fears we make it much more complicated. Granted, context can be helpful because if the person you’re considering asking to dinner is in a relationship, it’s probably best not to bother.

However, the added information can also be unhelpful.

Take moving to another city, you might be super excited but also kind of scared because of the uncertainty, even though you feel like you need a change.

When you allow feelings related to fear to be at the forefront of your mind, it can often hinder your ability to make decisions.

So sometimes it’s best to remove all the details and ask yourself a simple question. Answer yes or no, stick with it and move forward.

How to know when you’ve made the right decision

It’s all in how it feels.

When you find yourself with a choice to make between A and B, the main challenge will be wanting to make the right decision.

You don’t want to pick an option that you might later regret. But the truth is most of the time, you never really know how you’ll feel a month or a year down the line.

And as much as you can go back and forth, at the end of the day you have to choose.

I find that that it helps to put as little pressure on the decision as possible. Sometimes even make a game of it, put your options into an online hat that will pick for you or pick flower petals.

Whatever you end up choosing if you feel calm and at peace granted part of that will come from no longer having the burden of deciding on your shoulders but the feeling of peace will also be from having made the right choice for you.

Making difficult decisions

The feeling of regret is always uncomfortable, especially when you think that making a different choice would have led to a better life.

When you reach this conclusion, what do you do next?

Do you take charge, choose the other choice and commit to it in order to reach the outcome you believe is possible.

Or do you get swept up in the feeling of regret and allow your mind to go round and round in circles telling stories about how that single choice you made has ruined your life.

The other option is to stick with the decision you made and make the best of the path you’re on.

It can be difficult to decide but if you put less pressure on the decision you make, things start to feel a whole lot easier.

What also helps is knowing that whatever you pick, things will turn out totally fine.

What do you want to be known for?

When Seth Godin answered this question he said ‘ I would like to be known by what the people who have learned from me have taught other people’.

I think this was said on an episode of Tim Bilyeus’ podcast, Impact Theory.

If you’re somebody that creates or puts stuff out there, I think it’s an important question to have regularly running through your mind.

Your answer will serve as a compass to help guide your decisions.

I often ponder on that question in relation to this blog and my answer is always about adding value and sharing something useful. And so I’m so I’m less likely to write about personal details in the day to day life because it doesn’t align with my answer.

Perhaps, it isn’t something you’ve considered much and maybe right now you can’t sum it up in 18 words. But it is definitely something worth thinking about.

Making a change vs Doing nothing

When making a difficult decision a good place to start is weighing up the pros and cons.

Take some time and really think about it.

Let’s say for example you were deciding whether or not move to a new city. The pros might be things like getting a fresh start, more opportunities and challenging yourself. The cons could be a lack of familiarity, time lost having to start over and leaving family/friends behind.

You could also ask yourself questions like:

Will the short-term advantage benefit me in the long-run?

I think if you regularly find yourself caught between making a change and doing nothing, you might just be afraid of trying something new or making a mistake.

In those cases it might actually be better to throw yourself into doing the the thing you’re unsure of because at least you’re giving yourself the opportunity to grow, develop and explore.