Last summer, I found myself in a dilemma to make a decision. Amidst my struggle to find fulfillment from the various jobs, I was offered a regular salary and benefits kind of job. Being offered any type of employment after a particularly long dry spell was fantastic, but I was hung up on the fact that it wasn’t how I pictured it — the pay wasn’t great and the industry was one I never thought I’d be in.
I was faced with an important decision: Do I accept the new position and a chance at a little security, or continue searching for something different, something that fit the long laundry list of must-haves I had concocted for my professional life?
Besides everything else, I was most terrified about accepting a position that I wouldn’t be happy in. In fact, a fear of not being happy was a place I operated from often, one I knew had succeeded in keeping me from trying new things.
Originally, when I had applied for a position, it was simply to feel like I was moving forward and putting myself out there — I honestly never thought I would get it. With the offer was on the table I was forced to make an important decision.
Here are the five keys I followed in order to decide what my next step might be:
Key #1 – Determine what decision sits better.
Growing up, my mother always told me to choose the path that “made me feel lighter.” This helped me to distinguish what my intuition was telling me — if I made a decision and I felt heavy with dread, I knew it was probably not the best for me.
In this case I selected option #1 (taking up the job), sat with it for a while, compared that to how I felt when I entertained the idea of choosing option #2 (waiting for a better opportunity to come). This was a clear indicator of which direction I was leaning and why.
Key #2 – Gather all the information you can get your hands on.
I’m great at jumping to conclusions. So when I was offered this particular position — without really knowing the detailed job description, benefits package, etc — I found myself filling in the blanks and using that to make my final decision.
Not surprisingly, I didn’t have my facts straight. Once I was able to get all the information I needed, I could make an educated decision — one that I wouldn’t regret later once I really saw the full picture.
Key #3 – Release the need to make the “perfect” decision.
Maybe the path you go down doesn’t end up panning out the way you had originally imagined. That doesn’t mean that it was a “bad” decision, in fact, it might have lead you to meet a certain person or learn a specific lesson. Even paths that lead to discomfort are worthwhile.
Nearly a year later, after opting to take the job that I was offered, I now know that I won’t be there forever. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t absolutely worth it for all the skills that I acquired and all the connections I made.
Key #4 – Realize that you have the power to decide how permanent or impermanent a decision may be.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always afraid of being stuck — stuck at a job I don’t like, stuck in a relationship that doesn’t add to my happiness, stuck in an apartment that is noisy and uncomfortable.
But even by entertaining these thoughts, I am handing my power over to entities outside of myself when, in reality, I have the control to decide which direction my life will move in at any time.
If I was truly unhappy after accepting the position, I could have chosen to quit at any time. I realized no decision is permanent unless I choose to make it that way!
Key #5 – Stop over-thinking and second-guessing.
Often times we make the entire decision-making process much harder than it needs to be, and we end up flip-flopping between options much more than is necessary.
Gather your information, check in with yourself, make a decision and stick with it. The less time you spend second guessing, the better your chances of staying in the flow and choosing what is truly better for you.
When I let go and stopped trying to analyze my options from all sides and standpoints, I was able to make a decision effortlessly and with no regrets.
Being decisive was what catapulted me out of “stuck-land” and into a situation where I could continue my personal and professional growth. Maybe something else would have been “more perfect,” but there was a clear reason why I chose this path — even if it isn’t entirely clear to me right here and now.
How do you make a decision?
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