It can be so hard to make a decision. If only we could know what the future would hold with each available option, then we could make a choice according to the outcome it would give. But decision making is so much riskier than that, as it involves so much unknown.
It can seem a natural thing to look to those around us and ask what they would do. But this usually confuses things because not everyone agrees and so the decision is suddenly even more complicated. Whose opinion do we value the most? Who do we want to please the most? What will other people think about the decision we make? What if we make a decision and it all goes wrong? What will people think of us then? What if we make a decision and it affects someone else and makes life worse for them? That is decision making at its riskiest.
We often lose touch with what we want along the way, so we don’t know what is right for us. It’s so incredibly hard to make decisions when we don’t even know what we want.
Recently I had a decision to make and I found it really hard. I found myself going around in circles. I had committed to doing a course and it was getting to the point where I was about to be liable to pay for it. If I cancelled then I wouldn’t have to pay, but that option ended within the next few days. I had signed up for it because I wanted to do it, but I couldn’t help feeling uncertain about it, and I had no real excitement about it anymore. It made me question whether it was worth the time and money commitment if I was so unsure. I had signed up for it excitedly a couple of months before, so surely I did want to do it or I wouldn’t have signed up for it. Did I? I usually love doing courses.
I deliberated, and came to the conclusion it would be a useful thing to do and there was nothing particular that was holding me back from doing it, except the time away from my family and the money involved. It would be ‘fine’. But I felt so uncertain. I had a sense that if it was the right option for me then somehow I should feel more peace about it, more at ease. More excited even. If I was committing a significant amount of my time to something, then I wanted to be looking forward to it and not dreading it.
On the morning of the deadline to withdraw or commit, a realisation came to me. Two years previously I had wanted to do an alternative course, but at the time I didn’t have the time or money to make it possible. It occurred to me that this alternative cost less than the one I had signed up for, and was much more flexible as it would involve less time away from my kids. The outcome of it was even more uncertain than the first option, but I felt a lightness in my body, an excitement about it, and I guess all I can call it is an inner knowing. It felt good in my bones. It felt right even though it was so much riskier and more uncertain. I felt excited to pursue something so unknown. I felt excited to sign up for it.
That day I withdrew. I felt a bit guilty for inconveniencing other people, but realised that it wasn’t a problem. I needed to do what was right for me, even if it wasn’t the option that pleased others the most. I could carry it on, but I’d only be doing it to be true to my word and to please those involved. Integrity is really important to me, but by withdrawing when I did, I wasn’t really inconveniencing anyone.
I signed up for the course I felt more excited about. And then I felt totally at peace. I had made a decision. What a relief!
This might sound simplistic, but I can assure you that it took some soul searching. I had tried to ask others, but they could only suggest what sounded like it made sense. They couldn’t know what made me come alive. I tried to decide with logic. But a list of ‘for’ and ‘against’ makes a logical decision, and not all decisions are logical. We look for answers in our head, but the answer is in our body. The thing that finally helped me decide was reconnecting with my inner knowing.
Something in me knew what I wanted. And it wasn’t the logical thing. I’d forgotten about the second option as I hadn’t been able to do it in the past. I hadn’t been ready or had the resources I needed for it. But as soon as I was reminded that it existed as an option, I just knew. I wasn’t making a sensible decision that could be weighed up on paper. I was trying to follow my heart and do what was right for me. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought.
Making decisions can be so hard, because often we have lost touch with our inner knowing. Our ability to trust ourselves. So we rely on others in case we get it wrong and make the wrong decision. We trust their judgement more than we trust our own.
- If you’re not sure then don’t do it
A quote I like from Marie Forleo is “if it isn’t a hell yes, then it’s a hell no”. It sounds drastic because sometimes decisions feel more subtle than that, but I like the idea that if it isn’t an obvious yes, then maybe you can just assume it is a no and pursue something else.
A powerful question you can ask yourself is whether you would do it if you had a million pounds as it takes money out of the equation.
- Toss a coin
I’m going to toss a coin about your decision – imagine the coin is in the air. What does your gut instinct say about the way you’d like it to land? This can be a big clue about what you really want.
If you’ve lost touch with your inner knowing and would like to reconnect with who you really are and what you want, then I’d love to hear from you. My passion is working with people to help them reconnect with themselves, pursue what is right for them to live a life true to themselves.