Along the way, life presents many tricky spots. During those times, we are faced with making decisions that will impact our lives in one way or the other. Often, it can be difficult to see far enough into the future to know exactly how those choices will affect us.
These kinds of questions can span a broad spectrum of issues: Should you switch careers? Quit your job? End a relationship? Put your heart on the line? Move to a new place? Go back to school?
While I don’t pretend to be some kind of a guru on these subjects, I do have a few thoughts that I would like to pass along in hopes they can help you out with tough decisions you might be struggling with.
Not All that Glitters is Gold
Life is a marathon. When it comes to making a difficult decision, it is absolutely essential to look at the big picture.
I was talking to a close personal friend on the phone a few years ago. He told me he was thinking about leaving his wife because he had met someone more exciting, prettier, more fun to be with, and that he seemed to connect better with.
He also talked about how they met and how their relationship had grown into something more than just a friendship. There are a couple of ways to look at this. You could say that life is too short to spend in a miserable marriage. And I would agree with that to some extent.
But there is also the other side that must be examined. What is the foundation made of? Will the new relationship be built on trust? What will it look like five years from now? Ten? Twenty?
I explained that, based on what my friend had said, the relationship he had with that woman would not end well. The basis of what they had together was not built on something that could stand the test of time. It was something flashy and fun, but wasn’t made to last.
He chose to ignore my counsel and left his wife anyway. A few years later, the new woman left him. She had apparently been seeing someone else during the last months they were together. Now he is left with nothing but regrets.
Just because something is shiny and new, doesn’t mean you should have it.
There are literally thousands of blogs and books out there that are telling people to quit their jobs and live the life of their dreams. Make your own schedule. Quit the nine to five. Be your own boss.
And they have testimonials to back up that it can be done.
Don’t get me wrong. I love entrepreneurship. I’m a part-time entrepreneur myself. But I’m a bigger fan of minimizing risk.
When it comes to making a decision about your job or career, it is crucial that you take into account the risk involved. It can be easy to let your emotions take over and walk away from a job you don’t enjoy. Honestly, it’s a great thing to aim for. Instead of diving in headfirst, though, how about trying something else first?
I have a friend who recently started his own business. He didn’t quit his job, though. He started small at first, selling a few products at a time until his revenue had increased to the point where he was making as much as he earned at his full-time job. It’s the exact same model I’ve used with the novels I write. It’s all about finding little moments in the day where you can get small batches of work done.
I get most of my writing done in the morning before I commute to work, on my lunch break, and in about thirty minutes when I get home.
The point is that you don’t have to take a huge risk to build something. So, if you are thinking about quitting your job, I always say it is better to have something else in your back pocket before doing so, whether it is another job or a business that you have created.
I would say that minimizing risk is important in all aspects of life. There are risks we can take that might be fun or adventurous. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go skydiving. But I am saying that you should have a professional pack your parachute for you.
Ask Yourself Why and What
Whatever tough decisions you might be facing, you have to ask yourself two critical questions. Why and what?
Why would you do what you’re thinking about doing? That leads to the second question of, what will my life look like if I do it?
When you’re asking yourself these questions, it is imperative that you take a step away from the moment, and try your best to look at things objectively. There is no way that you can do this perfectly. Your emotions, thoughts, and feelings are too close to the issue at hand. But you can make yourself aware of all those things by consciously focusing on each thought and asking yourself where those thoughts are coming from.
Are they coming from a place of frustration, fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, or desperation? If so, those are sources that stem from negativity. And to be honest, decisions that come from a negative source will only result in negative outcomes for your life.
An example would be: Going back to school to get another degree because you’re afraid of losing your job and you want to be more marketable.
Negative result: Taking on additional student loan debt to acquire the degree and having no guarantee of landing a job in that field when you finish it.
In this example, fear caused the decision to go back to school, and in the end it piled up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. See what happened?
You could apply the same thinking to the story of my friend who left his wife. He was frustrated and resented her, so he chose to be with someone else. The result ended in a breakup that has left him with no family, several friends lost, and alone in a place he doesn’t like.
Are you thinking about making a commitment to someone because you’re afraid of being alone? I hear this one more than you might believe. Again, this is a huge life decision that is being made out of the emotion of fear. Most likely, it will result in some other kind of negative outcome in the end.
When it comes to making tough decisions, our friends almost always have advice for us. I don’t like to give advice because that takes away the responsibility from the person who sought it. I do, however, guide them to answers. And I do it with some of the techniques and questions I have presented in this article.
Spotlight on You
I’ve only highlighted a few things that life can present, but I know there are a ton more.
Are you faced with tough decisions? Can asking yourself some of these questions help bring about better experiences in the long run? Or do you have some other ways you come to the point of making difficult life choices? Share your tough spots or your techniques with community by leaving a comment below. And if you found this article useful, share it with your friends or network via some of the provided social media outlets.