Dear friends – the start of spring is a good time to reflect on new beginnings, opportunities and decisions. Here are a few thoughts to help you kick-start this process and make empowered and intentional decisions in your life and career.
How to Make a Big Decision
Life is full of decisions – big and small. Most of us make small decisions in our every day lives fairly seamlessly. However, the bigger the decision, the bigger the impact and often the more pressure we feel to make the “right” decision.
For example, let’s say you’re deciding between two different job offers – one pays better but includes a commute (and less time with your family/friends). This decision impacts you, your family, your friends, your money and your career (as well as other potential relationships/areas of your life). That’s a lot of weight on one decision!
My husband and I were recently faced with a big decision on whether or not to move out of San Francisco (spoiler-alert – we decided to stay) and we used some of the below tactics to make an empowered and intentional decision.
The next time you’re faced with a big decision, I invite you to pick and choose which exercise/s might work for you.
Trust Your Intuition:
Research shows that people who make decisions quickly, even when lacking information, tend to be more satisfied with their decisions than people who research and carefully weigh their options. Your intuition is there for a reason and your job is to quiet the external noise (fear, doubt, worry, guilt and what other people want/expect) so you can truly listen to it. So, find 10 minutes where you can be alone and quiet. Take a few deep breaths. Where do you feel intuition in your body? What does it feel like? What is your intuition telling you?
Since intuition is emotions-based, it can be the most fulfilling way to approach a decision. However, the size and potential impact of many big decisions merit a closer, more thoughtful examination. We navigate the world through both rational and emotional filters. The rational brain buys the house, the emotional brain picks the colors and furniture.
So let your intuition lead you in a direction and allow for a rational examination as well. Here are a few ways to approach a rational based decision.
Create a Decision Matrix:
The standard pros and cons list has its limitations. It can give us a sort of tunnel vision, where we get so focused on the immediate consequences of the decision that we don’t think about the eventual outcomes.
Instead, it pays to take some time to consider the longer-term outcomes. Take out a piece of paper and draw four quadrants. In the upper left quadrant, write down all the best possible outcomes if you decide option A. In the lower left quadrant, write down all the worst possible outcomes if you decide option A. In the upper right quadrant, write down all the best possible outcomes if you decide option B. In the lower right quadrant, write down all the worst possible outcomes if you decide option B.
Thinking in terms of longer-term outcomes – and broadening your thinking to include negative outcomes – can help you find clarity and direction while facing your big decision.
Ask Yourself Some Deeper Questions:
- What does success and failure look like for each option?
- What is fulfilling and disappointing about each option?
- Which option moves you closer to your life/career objectives?
- How will each option impact your day-to-day life?
Keep Asking Yourself “Why”:
By asking yourself “why” as many times as needed, it can help you determine whether a decision you’re considering is in line with your core values. Values are one-word descriptions that get to the core of who you are. When you’re honoring your core values, you’re truly alive and engaged and you show up as your best self.
For example, if you’re deciding between freelancing and looking for a full-time job, you may ask yourself the following questions:
Why should I start freelancing? It allows me to make my own schedule, be my own boss and work on the projects I choose. Why is that important? Because I want to enjoy work when I’m at work and also have a life outside of work. Why? Because I want to make a real impact through my job and have more time with my family. Why? Because I want to leave a legacy through my work and connect with my family on a deeper level. Why? Because that’s what’s truly important to me.
Through this line of questioning, we uncovered the values of freedom, flexibility, independence, connection, impact and legacy.
Next, go through the same line of questioning about looking for a full-time job and pull out the relevant values. Last, compare and contrast which decision honors your highest priority values.
Own Your Decision:
Whichever decision you make or process you use, you’ll serve yourself well by owning your decision. The very act of making a decision can be quite validating and liberating in itself. Once you make your decision, you may even find that you adopt a whole new perspective.
Throughout our own recent personal decision- making process, I adopted the perspective of deep gratitude. I was reminded that to be in choice, is to be empowered. We may move out of San Francisco one day – just not today. In the meantime, I’m better able to appreciate what we have and truly live in the present. Isn’t that what life is all about?