Decisions, Decisions!

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Should I take this job or that one? This one offers security but is boring and has little room for advancement; that one offers a chance to grow but carries economic risks.
Should I get this car or that one? This car gets better gas mileage; that one is more fun to drive but has fewer seats.
Should I buy a home or rent? Housing prices may still drop so maybe it’s better to keep renting; but if I buy now, will the tax break offset the higher price?
Should I try to get pregnant now or wait? My relationship with my husband is wobbly so maybe we should wait; but my clock is ticking, and what if I can’t conceive later?

Decisions, decisions! We face choices—big and small—constantly. Even the decision between two good things, such as a vacation in the sun or one on the ski slopes, can cause us anxiety. How do we decide how to decide?

Most of us poll our family or friends. After all, they know us and will probably have some good pros and cons to offer us. But have you ever listened to their valuable advice, nodding your head in agreement, then walked away feeling just as confused or undecided as before? Why is it that some decisions are so hard to make?

Indecisiveness is sometimes a clue that we’re not considering the right criteria. For example, if you’re choosing a car, instead of starting with the sticker price or the fuel economy, you might want to ask yourself what it is you want to experience. Are you looking for fun? Is status important? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you want to drive on all the school field trips? Do you want the safest car, short of a military tank, because you have a teenager about to get her driver’s license? By asking what you want to experience, you give the message to yourself that you are worthy.
When you remind yourself that you are worthy of choosing according to your own intrinsic criteria, clarity is sometimes instantaneous. You may say to yourself, “Of course, this is what I wanted all along. Why did I make it so hard for myself?” Maybe all you had to do was clear out the other “voices in your head”—the ones that said “I shouldn’t want this.” “This is too nice for me.” “Others will judge me for wanting this.” “I don’t deserve this.”

However, even using your own criteria for deciding, you may still feel confused. Why? Because your mind and spirit may be arguing so effectively that you can’t tell who’s who. If you want to know what your spirit wants, here’s a quick exercise: Close your eyes and imagine a traffic light. Then think about one of your alternative choices. Quickly, what color do you see: green or red? Now think about the other choice. Quickly again, what color do you see? Green is your spirit’s choice. (Yes, it’s possible that your spirit will see green with more than one alternative because it may be fine with more than one choice.)

What if your spirit didn’t see green with any of your choices? Then maybe it’s time to look into more options. We can get caught up in either/or thinking: I can pick this car or that one, this job or that one. Maybe there are more alternatives that you haven’t even considered that would result in a green light. Don’t limit yourself prematurely, especially with self-talk like, “I would never…” I worked with a single woman in her mid-thirties who said, “I would never have children without a mate.” She also told me, “I would never marry a man who already has children.” Well, by the time she was forty and still single, she was questioning her strong stances. By forty-two, she had adopted two children and couldn’t imagine her life any other way. At forty-three, she met a man through her single-parent support group and guess what? She’s now married raising four children. When I last saw her, she laughed as she told me, “Jane, at 35 I thought I had to play it smart. I know now that all I had to do was listen to what I really wanted and things would work out.”

Things do tend to work out when we promise ourselves that we won’t regret our decisions as long as we honor our criteria, come from worthiness, and listen to our spirit.

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