“Nothing happens until you decide.
Make a decision and watch your life move forward.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Have you decided to make big change happen in your life this year? Whether by bringing forth “the treasures hidden inside you,” or creating a new way of living your life that is healthier and happier for you, or in some other way you’ve been dreaming about?
Perhaps you’re considering a job change, a new career path, or moving to another part of the country (or the world). You may want to find work you can do from home, or switch to part-time so you can pursue a side gig in a field that’s always fascinated you.
Whatever your big change may be, you have some decisions to make. Big ones, small ones, and everything in between. You’ll need to flex your decision-making muscles every step of the way.
Moving forward into the life you desire means making and taking action on your decisions. Otherwise, as Lao Tzu wisely said: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you’re heading.”
Feeling decision-phobic? That can happen when we just let all the possibilities swirl around in our head, rather than breaking it down through a more effective thought process.
So, how to handle all those decisions? As a visual person, I’m a big fan of writing everything on a yellow legal pad or a white board or a flip chart. Doing a brain dump, and getting it all out of my head makes it so much easier to sort through the many considerations and make sense of it all.
When faced with a big decision, I recommend finding a quiet space, shutting off your phone, and starting to write. Consider these questions:
What’s the goal at the heart of your decision? Describe it. Just as an example, you may write “I want to work part-time and start writing that novel I’ve been carrying around in my head, with the goal of having a complete manuscript within a year.”
What are all the different ways of approaching this you can think of? Reducing your hours at your current job? Finding a new part-time “day job?” Working on a freelance basis? And so on. List every idea you can think of, no matter how “outside the box” they may seem.
What are the pros and cons and worst case scenarios for each of these options? Really work this one. Get it all out there. Pros, in this example, may include accomplishing a longtime personal or professional goal, or adding a new income stream, or creating more balance in your life, or [fill in the blank]. Cons may be short-term budget constraints, needing to give something up for a while or delay purchases, or taking yourself off the promotion path in your field for a time.
Who or what else will be impacted by each option, and how does that work into your decision-making process? Current clients, family and friends, colleagues, business partners?
This example just skims the surface, but you get the idea: Get it out of your head, onto paper, and use those notes as the valuable tool they are in making your way through the decision landscape.
A related and frequently asked question is: Which should take priority when we’re making a decision, especially about the kind of big changes we’re discussing here: Head or heart? Gut feeling or cold hard facts?
Great question, and the answer is all of the above, plus more. A multi-faceted approach to decision-making can lead to a more balanced, holistic answer that is truly best for us.
Hamilton weaves Eastern philosophy around Flow throughout his work, and considers Will/Intuition, Heart, Body, Mind, and Spirit when making decisions.
Will/Intuition: Do you get the feeling this is something you really want to do?
Heart: How will this affect your relationships with those around you?
Body: “Does this sit right, feel right? Will it create more connection, more fulfillment? Or just a whole lot of extra work and craziness?”
Mind: What are the down sides, or risk sides, to be considered?
Spirit: “Does it lift us up and contribute to our wider purpose?”
Ensuring a dynamic balance of these five energies can help us make the best and most effective decisions in harmony with what’s most important to us.
Most of the decisions we make are not carved in stone, never to be changed down the line. Life is dynamic and so are we. As Marie Forleo recently said about considering worst-case scenarios: “When we write them down, we can see it’s rare that there’s ever a decision we can’t change or recover from. This helps remove fear.”
Change is the only constant, as they say. Be both bold and thoughtful as you consider big changes in the year to come.
One thing’s for sure – we will never know if a big change or new direction is right for us unless we give it a try. Thinking it through is extremely important, but hypotheticals can only take us so far. We need to step on the path, take some baby steps, make course corrections, and keep growing and learning along the way.
James Altucher wrote:
“Changing is never bad. It means you learned enough from one thing and now you are ready for the next.”
What’s next for you?