Monday, April 18, 2011

Insights on making hard choices

You thought about it - stressed about it – prayed about it. You called up for your friends for advice. Then finally you made a decision. You made a choice that would work best for you. Or so you thought. Suddenly, you’re convinced that you made a mistake. You ask those same friends. You torture yourself. You start worrying and expecting the worst.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If we were unsure then why did we do it? The answer is simple: you did it thinking it was the right thing to do. Even if the choice was unsavory, you saw it as the ideal solution. You did it to help someone – maybe even to hurt someone – maybe because you were scared. But in the end, regardless of your intentions, you did it and now it is done.

So now what? What if you regret it? What if you want to go back? Is that even possible? Should you even be worried about it?

Here's a few things that I’ve realized:

1. All decisions are difficult. We hope for the best thing to happen. But then we worry and we try to rewind. But here’s the thing: going back isn’t really an option. But you can approach it with a new sense of clarity. You can’t disown what you did; you can only learn from it and move forward.

2. It may feel strange because it is different. You’ve never done anything like this before. This was a big step. You’re worried that you're really not ready. You’re worried that maybe you’ll fail. It's not that you did the "wrong" thing, but that what you decided to do was brand new. Take a deep breath. It’s probably just going to take time.

3. You’re letting people get in your head. You did what you did for a reason. Remind yourself of that. Remind yourself what you knew then. Think about your state of mind - why you thought it was what you should do. Then stick by it. If more information comes or things change, you can cross that bridge when you come to it. In the meantime, you can choose to stay open and listen but to do what you believe you should do.

4. You’re wondering if you thought of your values. Maybe your decision was logical. You did it because it was “right”. Not necessarily right for you, but right according to everyone else. Even if this is the case, it’s not something you realized before. You still did it because it FELT right. Now that it doesn’t, ask yourself 4 questions: Do I still stand by my decision? Is this decision in line with my values? Can I live with the choice that I’ve made? Am I willing to accept the consequences (including the possible impact on others)? If you answer no to any of these questions, take a moment to yourself. Think about what you want to do. Every day presents a new opportunity. Is there a new choice that you’d like to make? If you answered yes to each question, keep plugging away. Pray about it again. Meditate on it. Figure out how to strengthen your peace. Again, making a choice isn’t easy. But eventually the drama will pass.

5. Some decisions hurt. They can make you feel twisted inside. You wish you didn’t feel how you feel. You wish you didn’t do what you did, but you stand by your reason for doing it. Even if it takes time, you know that you did it with honor. When this happens, give yourself a pat on the back. You took a risk. You reached forward knowing how hard it would be. You knew people would come down on you. You knew you would have moments of doubt. But still you keep going, knowing it will all turn out best in the end.

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