When you have to make a decision about something that is super important to you and your happiness – like whether to give your faltering relationship one more try, or move away from your family and friends for a number of years, or buy a house in Toronto during these very expensive times, or other decisions just as difficult – it’s really hard to decide on what to focus on to even get near making that major life-changing decision.
There are your friends and family to consider, each with their own opinions, needs and desires. There are your personal and work aspirations, and how clear you are on each. But most critically, there is – deep down – what your own personal desires are telling you, and what these are based on. I find that for my clients and myself, this last consideration is the hardest. I’d like to consider each one of these three considerations, beginning with the opinions, needs and desires of friends and family.
Friends and family: Their opinions and desires matter, and having said that, they won’t have to live with the results of your decision. Whether you stay in or leave a relationship, or move away, or invest in a house – friends and family aren’t the ones in the relationship, or building a desired career, or paying the bills. Friends and family can make anything easier and happier, but only if you made a decision that is right for you as a first step.
Personal and work aspirations: Some of us (like me) want to do and experience so much, that it can sometimes overlap and interfere with real progress. There was a time where I would have been hard-pressed to refuse a job offer that was fantastic in every other aspect except location. These days, however, my values have changed and clarified: I am very clear on what I want for myself and how I want to attain it. Back when I might have been conflicted, it would no doubt (for me) have been about what I felt others I cared about wanted, and not so much about what I wanted. Whenever I tried to determine what I truly wanted, I’d go into a fog, then panic and turn to what others wanted for me instead. What I learned is that whenever I chose someone else’s desires over mine, it never worked out well. If you find yourself in a place of confusion over this kind of decision, it may be good to step back for a while until you get clear.
Our own personal desires: This one is related to personal and work aspirations, and also different, because it goes deeper. When I feel confused and in a fog over my own desires, it’s often because I’m struggling between what I long for and what I suspect is more real. What I long for is often, for me, some long unfulfilled dream that is, in reality, unattainable. The problem for me is that I can’t see or admit that it’s unattainable. Unattainable dreams often come from unfulfilled needs in childhood – they depend on others filling them that in fact, don’t do that – like a father or mother who could not really be there for you. Often as adults, we carry that old wound with us, believing as a child that we somehow failed our parent and that, if only we did X or Y, we could fix things for our parent.
The dream may be unattainable for reasons that are fear-based. It’s so much easier to stay in something familiar than to try something new and possibly fail. For instance, committing to moving away from everything that is known and familiar may be too daunting – you may be someone who needs your friends and family close, regardless of what others might say.
There are many other possible reasons that a longing we have remains unfulfilled – some of them can be remedied and some can never be remedied. Getting clarity on what exactly those driving forces are in your life is the only way you can know. And then once you know for sure, the decision will become clear, or at least a lot clearer.
I could also talk about the huge variety of alternatives we often have to choose from, but I leave that to the Ted Talk below.
What really matters when you need to choose is being clear on what is important to you, and why. Once you know that, it’s possible to commit 100% to your course of action. No looking back.
Quote of the Week
“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”
– Michelle Obama
The paradox of choice
I hope you enjoyed this article. When you’re ready to take the next step on your life journey, book a free 20 min consultation with me.