How to make a choice?
Last summer, I was faced with a difficult decision. In the midst of my struggle to find fulfillment in my various jobs, I was offered a regular salary and benefits job. Being offered any type of job after such a long period of unemployment was fantastic, but I was focused on the fact that it wasn’t what I expected — the pay wasn’t great, and the industry was one I never imagined myself in.
I had to make a choice: accept the new position and a chance at some security, or keep looking for something different, something that fit the long laundry list of must-haves I had compiled for my professional life?
Apart from anything else, I was terrified of accepting a position in which I would be unhappy. In fact, I frequently operated from a fear of not being happy, which I knew had kept me from trying new things.
When I first applied for a job, it was just to feel like I was moving forward and putting myself out there — I honestly had no idea if I would get it. With the offer in hand, I was forced to make a critical decision.
Here are the five steps I took to determine what my next step should be:
Determine which choice is more comfortable for you
My mother always told me as a child to take the path that “made me feel lighter.” This assisted me in distinguishing what my intuition was telling me — if I made a decision and felt heavy with dread, I knew it was probably not the best decision for me.
In this case, I chose option #1 (taking the job), sat with it for a while, and compared how I felt when I considered option #2. (waiting for a better opportunity to come). This was a clear indication of where I was going and why.
Collect any and all information you can get your hands on
I’m really good at jumping to conclusions. So, when I was offered this particular position, I found myself filling in the blanks and using that to make my final decision, despite not knowing the detailed job description, benefits package, and so on.
Not surprisingly, I was incorrect in my facts. Once I had all of the information I needed, I was able to make an informed decision — one that I would not regret once I had a complete picture.
Let go of the desire to make the “perfect” choice
Perhaps the path you take does not end up turning out the way you had hoped. That doesn’t mean it was a “bad” decision; in fact, it may have led you to meet someone or learn a lesson. Even the most difficult paths are worthwhile.
Nearly a year after accepting the job offer, I’ve realized that I won’t be there indefinitely. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t well worth it for the skills I learned and the connections I made.
Recognize that you have the ability to determine whether a decision is permanent or temporary
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of being stuck — stuck at a job I don’t like, stuck in a relationship that doesn’t contribute to my happiness, stuck in a noisy and uncomfortable apartment.
But even by thinking these thoughts, I am ceding control to entities outside of myself when, in reality, I have complete control over the direction my life will take at any time.
If I had been truly unhappy after accepting the position, I could have resigned at any time. I realized that no decision is permanent unless I make it so!
Stop overthinking and second-guessing yourself
We frequently make the decision-making process much more difficult than it needs to be, and we end up flip-flopping between options far more than is necessary.
Collect your data, check in with yourself, make a decision, and stick to it. The less time you spend second-guessing yourself, the more likely you are to stay in the flow and choose what is truly best for you.
When I let go and stopped trying to analyze my options from all angles and perspectives, I was able to make an easy and regret-free decision.
Being decisive propelled me out of “stuck-land” and into a position where I could continue my personal and professional development. Perhaps something else would have been “more perfect,” but there was a reason I chose this path — even if it isn’t entirely clear to me right now.
How do you make a choice?