Life wouldn’t be very interesting if every-so-often we weren’t faced with a mind-crunching, hair-pulling, I-don’t-know-what-do type decision. Sure, big decisions are stressful, time-consuming and overwhelming, but they also have their positives.
They put us right up in front of ourselves and force us to examine our motives, desires, values and priorities. By doing so, they help us build character. Big decisions can also signify a moment of change and growth in our lives – a key turning point (that usually leads to a better life!). They can move us into new realms, offer us new experiences and change the way we live everyday.
Our greatest fear? Making the wrong decision or regretting our choice later. Just as paralyzing is the desire to make the “perfect” choice – a thing that simply doesn’t exist. A decision that feels right now, may feel wrong later, and then right again in years to come. Because it’s impossible to know all the consequences of a decision, we simply have to do what feels true. Finding your truth is the challenge.
The place to start is to look at the type of decision you’re facing:
A win-win decision
There are many times when all options promise positive results. If only every tough decision fell into this category! In a “win-win” situation (such as whether to go on vacation in Mexico or Hawaii), uncertainty may stem from confusion over values or priorities. Here’s what you do: Reflect on what’s most important to you – what do you value and what comes first in your life? Then, see which choice lines up best. If you can get your priorities straight, the answer will make itself abundantly clear.
This decision occurs when you really don’t have strong feelings either way. Here’s what to do: Resist the urge to flip a coin. Instead, try listening to your body. What are your neck, shoulders and muscles telling you? What is your gut feeling? Close your eyes, tune into your body and think about each of your choices individually. Does your body have a calm, relaxed response or is it tense and uncomfortable? You might be surprised by what your body can tell you!
A “combination” decision is when there are both pros and cons no matter what choice you make. This is one of the most difficult decision types because there are positives and negatives on both sides. Though listing pros and cons is a valuable exercise, often sorting through the list leaves you more confused than ever. Keep in mind that immediate benefits aren’t always a good basis for a decision. In addition, make sure your approach isn’t driven by unrealistic expectations (such as hoping certain conditions in life will change, when there is really no guarantee of this).
A forced move
This decision occurs when no matter what you decide, there will be unpleasant consequences. Your best friend’s boyfriend made a pass at you. Should you tell her? In a forced move situation, neither choice is much fun. Again, this is when your values and priorities come into play. Our advice is to ask yourself what decision you can best live with – and what would you want someone to do in the situation if the roles were reversed. Then, (as always) follow your heart.
This is when it’s impossible to know what the consequences of your decision will be. A pregnant woman had the option to find out more about the health of her baby, but the test itself posed a small risk to her child. She wasn’t sure, but she went ahead and made an appointment for the following week. While in the exam room with the doctor, she realized very suddenly and clearly that there was no way she could put her child at any extra risk. She refused the test. Whereas, another woman may sit in the doctor’s office and know she must get the test – so she does. Our advice: If the consequences of putting off the decision are acceptable to you, don’t make the decision until you absolutely have to.
It’s important to analyze the facts, then consult your heart and mind, and ultimately follow your gut and intuition, in the end, what matters more is how we live out the decisions we’ve made. If we do it with love, joy and grace, then there will be few (if any!) regrets. Even if in hindsight our decisions appear imperfect, it’s not what happens to us, it’s how we handle it. So our advice is to simply carry on with more grace and dignity and learn from mistakes. Now that is a “win-win!”
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