We all have to make decisions. All day, everyday. Some decisions are small and easy, like the decision what we eat for breakfast or what we want to wear today. They don’t have a big or major impact on our lives. But if you read last week’s post, then you also know that these decisions are in fact quite important as well, because they can become habits and nothing shapes us more than our daily routine and our daily habits.
So there are these small decisions we make everyday, which become important if they are repeated over and over. And then they are the big decisions. Decisions that can turn your life around, that will change everything. Often these decisions are risky. They scare us. Make us insecure. It’s that kind of decision I want to talk about today. My goal is that by the end of reading this article, you will be less scared to make big, meaningful decisions. So let’s go.
Your Fear Will Always Be There
This week I listened to a podcast by Laura Malina Seifert, who is coaching people to live happier lives. In her podcast #147, she talks about the fear of making wrong decisions and explains that the first important point is to accept that you will always be scared to make big decisions. Fear comes from within us, it is part of who we are. Decisions transform our lives. Moreover, they are often uncomfortable and risky. Of course this scares us. So we shouldn’t wait for the fear to disappear, because it won’t, but instead accept that it is there, listen to it and face it. While researching decisions and the feelings people associate with them, I came across the following quote:
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” Pema Chodron
Our Fear Can Help Us With Our Decision
In addition to what Laura explained, we can take what we know about our fears and use this knowledge to our advantage. Making decisions is a process, and thinking about our fears associated with a particular decision will help us find out what is important to us.
Why are we constantly asking ourselves: “What if?” and why are we so scared of a certain outcome? Listen to yourself and be honest. Maybe you are feeling like Alana Mbanza, who says that facing her fears made her see some negative beliefs she held about herself and realise that she doubted her own abilities. When she had to make the decision whether to not to move to another country, she stated: “The fear I was avoiding actually turned out to be the one thing that made my decision clear and gave me the courage I needed to prepare myself to go to Korea.”
Whatever decision you are facing, don’t be afraid to accept your fears. They are part of who you are and can actually guide you in the right direction.
Making Decisions Is a Privilege
As much as we often dread to decide about certain crossroads in our lives, we need to appreciate the fact that we are in a position where we can make decisions. Trying to see it as a privilege rather than a burden to decide, will shift our point of view and help us to think more positively about situations. We are lucky enough to be able to decide what we want to do.
Who do we want to be? Where do we want to live? Whom do we want to spend our time with? Where do we want to work? We have the power to decide. You have the power to decide. And in the end, your life will be a mirror of the decisions you have made, or haven’t made. After all, not making a decision is still deciding.
You Are The Captain
But nobody can decide for you. You are the one steering, directing. And yes, that can be incredibly scary. To the point where you feel overwhelmed and unhappy, because you don’t know where to go from here. Believe me, I have been there. However, the fact that you have to decide won’t change, but you can change how you look at making these decisions. Your perspective can have a huge impact on your mental state and wellbeing during the often difficult decision process. So try and stay as positive as you can and see it as a privilege that has been given to you. You are able to shape your own life. That is something to be grateful for and something to embrace.
As you can imagine, if you are feeling weak and helpless, you won’t be able to make powerful decisions. If you, however, embrace the positivity and the freedom of making your own choice, this will change. Belief in yourself and your abilities. Be grateful for the choices you are able to make. Strong, confident people make powerful decisions.
For Always Also Means Against!?
The main thing that has always scared me the most when it comes to making decisions, is the fact that deciding FOR one opportunity at the same time also mean deciding AGAINST a lot of options. What if I pick the wrong one? I used to have this picture in my head of many doors which are all open or partially open, but once I walk through one all the other ones close immediately. Depressing, isn’t it? But is it really like that? Today, I don’t think so anymore. To explain why, I would like to tell a personal anecdote.
When I first met my partner in 2012, I was already in my fifth semester of my education degree at university, which takes 10-12 semesters all up, so five or six years. I started studying straight after finishing high school in 2009. At that point, my partner was unhappy in his job and unsure what he wanted to do for work in the future. He felt lost and the whole decision process seemed like a huge burden to him.
I tried to encourage him, because I didn’t see it this way at all. He could do whatever he wanted to do with his life, he had so many options! To be honest, I was envious because at that point I thought that my decision had already been made and that from now on I was going to walk this straight road where everything was already laid out for me. I would finish my studies, find a job at a school somewhere and just stay there. Doesn’t sound overly exciting, right?
Doors Are Never Permanently Closed
A few days ago I was talking to my partner about this again. Now I am the one unsure what to do with my future and I am the one with the variety of options in front of me. When I said to him that I feel a bit lost because I always thought I had decided and knew where my path was going to lead, he said something really interesting to me. He said that things were never fully decided and that I had put myself in a small box telling myself I could not escape because I once made a decision. But I am not in this box. I put myself in there.
When I walked through the door of studying to be a teacher nine years ago, I did not permanently close any other doors. Well, maybe I did close some particular doors back then, but there are so many new ones appearing now! I can still be whoever I want to be, do whatever I want to do. Yes, I may have to take some detours, but have you ever met a really interesting and fascinating person whose life was just a straight road without curves, detours or breakdowns? See, me neither.
Do It: Decide!
So I hope you are now ready to go out there and make some meaningful decisions. Remember that the fear and uncertainty you are feeling when making big decisions is completely normal. It can even help you along the way to learn more about yourself. Also remember that you are the only person who can make decisions for you, nobody else. You don’t have to please everyone along the way. This is about yourself and your individual journey. Lastly, I want you to keep in mind that doors never close permanently. Life is full of detours, that’s what keeps it interesting. And there is always a way to change direction or correct course. You are the captain after all.