When you’ve been in job search and finally have an offer, or you’re faced with deciding to spend money on a training that could help you in your business, or you’re at a crossroads and aren’t sure which way to go . . . these are just some of the scenarios my clients face when they have to make a big decision. Everyone wants certainty. They want to know their choice will be the right one. They want a guarantee!
Life comes with no guarantees. I don’t have to tell you that. Sometimes, we do have those unshakeable, big YES’s that resonate through our mind and body, but most of the time, anxiety and uncertainty make it hard to decide. How can you make a decision you can feel really good about? One where you knew you could step out into the abyss and trust you won’t fall.
Check out this acronym for CHOICE.
Criteria – What’s Your Criteria for This Decision?
I often ask folks who come to me for career clarity support what their criteria is for happiness in a job. Most can’t answer. We may not have thought of it that way. So, I’ll ask now. What is your criteria for happiness in a career or job? What is your criteria for investing in your professional or personal growth? What is your personal criteria for making any decision?
I suggest an easy measure. Is your decision based in fear or love of self? Sure, hard times sometimes means taking a job you’re not thrilled with to have the income, but let’s look at this in the context of ideal conditions. Are you making this choice out of fear: Fear that it’s your last chance at something? Fear that you’re going to make a mistake so you do nothing? Fear that you’re missing out on something? Making a decision out of fear (unless that fear is a good motivator – like I’m afraid I’ll run out of money so I’ll get a solid foundation again – needs to be recognized and evaluated.
Have Faith – Have Faith in Yourself
How often have you let yourself down? Do you have a good track record of making decisions that serve you well? If so, use that to boost your confidence in the current decision.
If not, think about what you’ve learned from your mistakes. Were you rushed or pressured in making previous decisions? Did you listen to others instead of honoring what you wanted? Did you get burned through no fault of your own? Keep these things under consideration and build your ability to trust yourself.
OBSERVE – Observe Your Monkey Mind
The Buddhists call your noisy inner critic the Monkey Mind. Does your Monkey Mind chatter too much and too loudly?
Do you find yourself focusing on what you “should” do or not do? The word “should” is a giveaway that you are not thinking about what you want but rather what you think is expected or “better.”
Also watch for guilt in your decision making. I propose that there are two kinds of guilt. Good guilt and bad guilt. Good guilt is trying to warn you that you might be forming a regret. Like not seeing a friend who is sick when you’re close by. Bad guilt is all the anxiety about whether you were grateful enough for an interview, or if you did the right thing as far as presentation is concerned. It’s back to those “shoulds.”
INTUITION – Intuition Needs to be Included
When you lean too heavily on your logical left brain, you exclude your creativity, dreaming mechanism and the possibilitarian* in you is silenced. Trust your gut when making decisions. Read the next step to understand how to know what intuition is and what it feels like.
CLARITY – Get Clear on What You’re Feeling
Discernment is key here. Can you feel the difference between fear and intuition in your body? Interviewing people over the years, my observation is that fear is jarring and unsettling, while intuition is calmer. Intuition can be persistent, but the overall feeling is gentle.
Back in the day, my acting teacher, Kate McGregor Stewart, used to say: “Fear is just excitement without the oxygen.” Feeling the difference between fear and excitement is important too. Yes, you can be experiencing both at the same time, but for the best decision making, it’s helpful to know/feel the difference.
EVALUATE – Evaluate the Support Your Supporters Give You
It’s normal to want to bounce your ideas and decisions off of trusted folks in your life. However, it is important to keep in mind that often, our nearest and dearest aren’t always the best supporters because they project their own fears on to you. They might say you are crazy for leaving your industry, or that your idea doesn’t have merit. You MUST consider the source of these comments. People come from their own fears and limits and will project them on to you causing you to doubt yourself.
I’ve observed that when people tell you “you’re crazy,” you’re probably on the right track. You’ve made the other person question their courage, or maybe their status quo and comfort zone depend on what you do. That would cause them to voice their doubt.
Decisions are hard. Having more knowledge about yourself and how you make them, helps them become easier, more fluid, and produce the best outcomes.
Ultimately, there are no wrong decisions. Everything is AFGO.
*Norman Vincent Peale:
Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities — always see them, for they’re always there.