I was recently asked how I make big decisions. How do I know what to do when I'm faced with a choice that is terrifying and huge and potentially life changing?
What do you do when you're so confused you can barely think? When the pros and cons lists become meaningless?
How do you make the decision when it feels so massive you're absolutely paralyzed?
When this decision paralysis becomes apparent, at that point it's time to turn inward.
I have a process I use when making big decisions. I break the whole situation down and get in touch with my feelings. The whole process may take several days or weeks, or sometimes i can have things figured out in just a few hours.
There are a lot of variables, every situation and every decision is different, but the process ultimately comes down to this:
Trust your intuition. Follow your heart.
The Decision Making Struggle
I've made a lot of scary and big decisions in my life. Just a year ago I was turning in my two weeks notice at my full time job without having anything else lined up.
A couple years before that, I met a man off the internet (I'm gonna go ahead and say that I genuinely think that was a terrible idea, but it did turn out OK... he's my husband now)
A few years before that, I accepted a part time job teaching art classes when I had no actual experience making art.
I've made a lot of decisions that logically didn't make sense. And some that just seemed downright irresponsible. And that's because I was following my heart. And everything turned out OK.
What I've found over the years is that whenever we're faced with a big decision, the kind we lose sleep over and obsess about, we're usually having to choose between following our heart or following our brain.
On each side of the decision, there's an option that is terrifying but exciting and kinda feels like a dream. And on the other side is the "smart" thing to do, the rational solution, the one that keeps you safe.
And as has been the case for me, one option is grounded in freedom and the other is grounded in fear.
Your Heart Knows the Way
I believe that ultimately, deep down, we always know what option we want to pick.
The actual decision making isn't difficult. We know what we want. Our heart knows. But the struggle comes in when we get distracted by the fear.
We get distracted by the what ifs.
We worry over potential consequences and worst case scenarios.
So we come up with a second option. A safe option. A logical option.
When I was making the decision to turn in my notice and quit my job, it was scary. I knew in my heart that I wanted to leave and start a new chapter in my life. But there was so much fear surrounding that change.
I didn't have another job lined up. What if I didn't find one? What if I went broke and couldn't pay my bills? What if I lost my car, or the house? How would I feed my pets if the money wasn't coming in?
It was all what ifs. It was all fear.
And that's when my brain tried to take over. It said "Wait until you have another job. Wait until your online business takes off. Wait until you have enough saved up."
All logical and rational choices.
But the problem was, I'd been giving in to that fearful way of thinking for years. And even after several years, I was never any closer to having another job, or having an online business, or having enough saved up.
The fear was just keeping me stuck.
What are you really afraid of?
It's in times like this, when the fear based decision making starts to come up, you need to ask yourself, what are you really afraid of?
What is the big underlying fear behind trying to having another option? What's really keeping you from following your heart?
When I was facing leaving my full time job, losing my car or my house wasn't really what I was afraid of. The underlying fear that was keeping me stuck was a fear of failure. I was afraid of failing at finding other work or having my own business.
And I was afraid that the job I had, even though I hated it, was the best I'd ever have. There was fear that it was all downhill from there.
Once I identified those fears, I was able to very quickly see that they were lies.
They had no basis in truth.
I've always believed that my best days are ahead of me, which means it can't be "all downhill from here." There had to be something better.
And really, I've always been one to figure things out. There would be another job. I knew that in my heart. I knew it in my gut. That was truth. There was nothing to really be afraid of.
Trust Your Intuition
When it comes to the big decisions, you need to be able to set aside the fear and look at the situation with fresh eyes.
Your heart knows what it wants. And your intuition knows how to get you there.
Because I genuinely believe that your desires, you wants, you dreams, are God-given. They are not by accident. And if your dreams and desires are divinely inspired, then you can't possibly fail.
All you have to do is follow your heart and intuition to make it happen.
So when I'm faced with a choice, I spend time turning inward. I identify the fears behind my inner conflict. I listen to what my heart wants. And then I meditate and pray on it until I'm given my next right action.
I meditate and listen until I'm given my divinely inspired action.
And that's what it comes down to. Action bring clarity. The action will lead you to the right choice.