When we have to make a decision in life – any decision – we tend to approach things in a rational way. What are the options? What are the pros and cons? As I mentioned in a recent blog, this way of handling decision making can work in some occasions, but when it comes to making big decisions, things tend to get a little more complex.
The problem is, when you have to make a big decision in your life or career, you just can’t foresee everything, plan everything, or evaluate all the information available. Just think about it. You might move to another country for your job and meet your life partner there. Or you might travel somewhere and get in a serious accident. These things are all possible which makes it difficult to make a truly considered decision. So how can you approach a big decision? Here are some easy exercises you can try:
Fear is a bad advisor. When you become more aware of your fears, it becomes easier to make a decision without fear driving the decision. So how do you do this? Try to make your fears as explicit as possible, even if they are unclear. Use colors, metaphors, or movie characters to make them clearer in your head. What do they look like, what do they feel like, what do they sound like? And then, what are they telling you? When you know your fears, you can recognize and label them quickly as they come up when you are pondering a decision and you can put them away and make your decisions without them.
Expectations are another thing that can cloud your decision-making process. It’s not just your own expectations that can get in the way, but also those of your parents or your partner. Or maybe your own ego is clouding your judgment. Let’s be clear about all the expectations that are involved in your decision.
Expectations can be layered. What seems like a very rational expectation, or something you really want might actually be influenced by fear. Or your expectations might feel like your own, but they’re actually adopted from your parents. Go deeper and try to understand what drives these expectations. Now you can either keep them with a new awareness or put them aside, just like we did with our fears.
Use your gut
Try to really listen to your gut feeling. The gut is also called ‘our second brain’ because it ‘communicates’ with our actual brain through neural connections. Your gut feeling is your intuition. It is based on emotions and emotional memories. It asks only one question: Does this feel right? Try to really listen and be honest about it to yourself, which involves watching your fears and ego creep in. It’s a good idea to tell others about what you’re experiencing in this process as it will help you or them point out what feels right and what doesn’t.
There are some other ways you can approach your decisions. For example – if possible – instead of taking a big leap, you can experiment with your decision on a small scale to see how it plays out. You can also make a decision and check in regularly to see how it’s going for you. Whatever you do and however you approach it, the most important thing is that you make a decision and get into action. That’s what’s most important and the only way you will ever know for sure if your decision was right!