Do you ever have a hard time making decisions for fear of making the wrong one? Have you ever noticed that you have plenty of voices in your head as you mull over the various options and “what if’s?” Has uncertainty ever prevented you from moving forward because you don’t have it all figured out?
Why is change and making decisions so hard?
I want to share with you the process I used to make a recent big decision and some of the tools and insights that I came across that may be helpful for you if you’re making a decision.
For some time now I’ve had a sense that I’m meant to go back to school.
After spending a lot of time and energy coming to terms with what this decision would mean for me and others that I care about, I decided to move forward; applied and got accepted into a graduate program in Psychotherapy and Spirituality.
It was interesting to observe the commentary that was going on in my mind around the decision-making process: “What will I do with this degree when I’m finished? Am I feeding my ego or my soul? How will this program that’s in another city impact my relationships and my life? What do I need to let go of? Why can’t I just be happy without doing this? I haven’t been in school for 20 years and can I even do it? Am I too old to start that now? What will others think? What if I apply and don’t get accepted?” And on and on it went….
Does any of that inner dialogue sound familiar to you?
This is what I have learned about making decisions and some tips you may find helpful:
You don’t need to have it all figured out before you get started and take a step.
In Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech in June 2015, he said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
When I committed to becoming certified as a meditation and mindfulness teacher a few years ago, I had no idea that that decision would lead me to found The Compassionate Mind. How could I have known? I wasn’t meant to know at that time. I have the same sense of knowing related to my decision about going back to school. I have no idea where it will lead me, but I know I’m meant to do it and I’ll know when I know.
Wayne Dyer’s memoir, I Can See Clearly Now was a powerful example of how you can’t connect the dots looking forward. He shared how he listened to the inner signals that seemed to say: “This is why you are here, now you are truly aligned with your highest self, there is nothing to fear, just do what your excitement tells you to do.”
Our mindset impacts whether we embrace the challenge of making decisions and move forward or shrink and decide to stay in our comfort zone.
I experienced this first hand when I recently took an Academic Writing course. While waiting to get my first paper back, I noticed a book on my bookshelf that had been there for over a year. I had that intuitive knowing that I was meant to read the book and so pulled it off my shelf. It was a godsend! The message in the book called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck got me through the phone call with my professor who spent over an hour pointing out all the faults in my paper.
What was the message from the book that I found so helpful? It challenged some of my beliefs about intelligence and shifted my perspective from a “fixed” mindset to a “growth” mindset. In doing so, rather than feeling threatened by the feedback I felt grateful that it was giving me an opportunity to grow and learn. Developing more of a “growth” mindset is definitely helpful to embrace challenges and take the risk of making a decision and then dealing with whatever the outcome may be.
If you’d like to learn about your mindset and gain an understanding of how you can develop a “growth” mindset you can begin by taking The Mindset Assessment; a quick and reliable survey.
Carve out some space and time to get quiet.
It is virtually impossible to make a decision, especially a big one that both feels right and considers the logistics, without some form of inner reflection and intuition. For me personally, that is where meditation, mindfulness, and prayer have played an invaluable role. These spiritual practices enable us to connect with our inner compass and as Albert Einstein has stated: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
In addition to connecting with our inner wisdom and intuition, developing mindfulness enables us to tease out our own voice from other people’s opinions.
It’s vital that we separate our own voices and what’s right for us from the voices of others. In the post, How To Disperse The Crowd In Your Head I explore the need to be mindful of this in order to make decisions that are aligned with our core values.
Do you believe that “Indecision is the decision to fail?” Raymond Charles Barker made this statement in The Power of Decision: A Step-By-Step Program to Overcome Indecision and Live Without Failure Forever . This book challenges us to take an honest look at how we make decisions in our lives. Barker claimed that: “Success and failure are results of the use of mind. Every success-motivated mind has been a decisive mind. Every failure-motivated mind has been an indecisive mind. Only the dreamer who acted with decision on his dream brought forth something new and valuable.”
When it comes to decisions it is important to remember that you can’t connect the dots looking forward; the answers are within you, and that success lies in making decisions and moving forward even though you will likely not have it all figured out.