I’m one of those people who struggles with decision-making. I’m wired to want all the details before I jump in. If I’m not careful, this can lead to paralysis by analysis.
Then somewhere along my journey, I picked up this belief that decisions are permanent. If I chose the wrong job, I was stuck. If I moved somewhere and didn’t like it, I’d be a failure if I moved back. I saw most decisions as an either/or.
Over the last several years, I’ve become better at making decisions. I’ve learned to trust myself and I value my time. I’ve become more confident and less worried about what others might think.
I also ask myself one very important question. This question has brought so much peace and clarity to my life. My hope is that it does the same for you.
This question is probably not what you think it is. It’s not about regret or a list of pros and cons. This question will give you a lot to think about and you’ll surely learn something about yourself. Ready to find out what this amazing question is?
Am I making this decision to run away from something or toward something else?
Don’t you love that?
I’ve learned the hard way that making decisions to run away from something rarely ends well. Problems tend to follow us until they’re properly dealt with. For example, if you always struggle to get along with coworkers, a new job might help for a while. But unless you deal with how you contribute to the problem, the issue will arise again and again.I've learned the hard way that making decisions to run away from something rarely ends well. Problems tend to follow us until they're properly dealt with. Click To Tweet
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. My husband and I dream about retiring somewhere warm. Of the places we’ve visited, we keep coming back to Hawaii as our first choice.
Earlier this year we visited the Big Island and I found myself asking, do I really want to live here? Moving to Hawaii isn’t like packing up a U-Haul and driving to Florida or California. Moving to Hawaii would mean getting rid of almost everything and starting over. So it’s a decision I want to be relatively sure of.
Over the years I’ve become more comfortable being flexible with my decisions. I’d be happy to work on a job or project for a short period of time. And there are places I’d love to live for a few years, but not the rest of my life. But like I said, Hawaii has a few more things to consider.
So I asked myself, am I running away from something or toward something else?
I think a healthy answer will have both. For example, I’m not a big fan of winter. I can survive it, but I want to be able to play outside more than five months each year. I want to hike, bike, swim, camp, garden, and enjoy the fresh air year round. It’s clear that I’m running from winter. But at the same time, I’m running toward a more active and fulfilling life.
Another example is when we decided that I would step away from the industry I was employed in. Toward the end of my career, the company I worked for was named the Worst Company in America to Work For, multiple years in a row. The company remains on the worst list to this day, along with many of the partners we worked with. It’s a cutthroat industry and the chain I reported up through didn’t make it any easier.
My husband and I dreamed about me leaving this job for a few years. While our primary concern was getting me out of a toxic and demanding job, there were plenty of things we wanted to move toward.
My last position was ridiculously demanding. Business hours were eight am to six pm, but the expectation was much more. We were expected to travel four days per week and that travel was supposed to be done before and after business hours. On top of that, working through the weekend was encouraged and often forced. I was physically unable to give my best to our family and when I was home, I wasn’t my emotional best.
Yes, I was running from something, but I was running toward so much more. I was running toward better health, a better home life, and the freedom to begin working on our long-term goals.
How about you? How can you apply this question to decisions you’re struggling with?
I’ve found that if I’m mostly running from something, there’s a deeper issue. I’ve also found that if I’m running toward more than I’m running from, I’m generally happy with the decision I make.
Here’s a quick exercise to help you work through the question.
- Grab a sheet of paper and at the top, write down the decision you’re trying to make.
- Draw a line down the center of the page. To the left of the line write Running From, and to the right, write Running Toward.
- In each column, list everything that you are running from and toward, respectively.
- Compare the length of each column. You should have more in Running Toward.
- Now ask yourself, Is this the right decision for me?
I mentioned earlier in this article how easy it is for me to get stuck in analysis paralysis. If you’re someone who struggles to make decisions too, set a deadline. One to two weeks is a sufficient amount of time to decide and take action.
If you need further guidance in making your decision, one of my early mentors, Dan Miller, shares a simple decision-making process.
- State the Issue
- Seek Advice from Trusted Advisors
- List Your Options
- Choose the Best Option
Remember that no matter what you choose, you’re never stuck. We all have the freedom and ability to change our direction at any time we choose. As you begin to take action, you’ll learn and grow. As you learn and grow, so will your vision and goals.As you begin to take action, you’ll learn and grow. As you learn and grow, so will your vision and goals. Click To Tweet
Embrace it and enjoy the journey!
What tips have been helpful when making important decisions?
Share in the comments below.