How To Make BIG Decisions
Recently, a past client called me to talk through a potential job opportunity that would move her family overseas. She gave me the context, the pros and the cons, her gut feeling, and her husband’s thoughts, but even with this information, she still felt uncertain of which direction to take. It was such a big decision – to stay on the path her family had been on, even with its imperfect results, or change direction and explore a new opportunity, with an unknown outcome.
We examined potential scenarios and brainstormed solutions to obstacles, but in the end the question was, “do you want to take this leap?”
She couldn’t quite verbalize her answer to this yet. She needed to process and dig deep, which was ok – it’s a big question! But it was sitting at the crux of her indecision.
Regardless of your decision-making methods, it takes inner strength and courage and not a list to know if:
· you have it in you to make this change
· you want to put effort into this direction
· this is the right opportunity for you
· it feels right for you at this time
To find the answers to these questions, there are two options: stillness or movement. Somehow the duality of these, or the ying and the yang, if you will, provide the insight and the clarity when lists and logic aren’t enough.
I recommend all of my clients find 10 minutes in the morning to be quiet with their thoughts. This could look like meditation, prayer, or even a few moments with a cup of a tea. This helps on a daily basis to be present in the moment at work or with the kids, but it’s even more important when making a big decision. When we are sitting quietly, focused on our own thoughts, feelings, tweaks and twinges can we start to hear the answers to the questions we’ve asked, even if we aren’t aware that we asked them.
This is especially helpful when we are unclear in what we want, we know what we want and have gotten off course, or when we are considering a new version of our future. It allows us the space to envision our future to the specificity of what it looks like, feels like, and even smells like!
Depending on your comfort with stillness, meditation, or prayer, here’s something to note: none of these are about clearing your mind. There’s no way to stop our thoughts, just like we can’t stop our heart beating. There are guided mediations that may help, or if you know this isn’t your thing, keep reading. This next decision-making technique may be just the answer.
Finding ways to gently move our bodies can allow thoughts or feeling to be “released,” especially in moments that we are feeling anxiety, as we often are when making a decision. And while a hard run or good dance session is good for working out the jitters, that’s not the kind of movement that I mean for making life altering plans. Simple, quiet movement is best here, like walking, yoga, stretching preferably without music, where we can hear our thoughts, should any come up.
When we were living in Mexico and deciding where we wanted to live in the US, my husband and I would propose cities to consider. Sometimes a place (or the idea of it) didn’t feel right, but after an outdoor walk that I could articulate my thoughts and feelings clearly of why I didn’t think it would work. I was able to sort through my reasoning while I moved my body, which helped us to continue to refine our criteria and find the city we eventually moved to in the summer of 2022.
Next time you approach a fork the road of life, from finding the best place to live abroad as a family, your next career, or even what’s your family’s policy (and reasoning) on screen time, try out one or both of these decision-making styles. Whether in stillness or in movement, I’m sure the answer will soon become clear.