It can be tough to make decisions that will impact a number of areas in your life and those around you. A decision can become more complex the deeper you dig. You have to make some difficult choices about how you will live your life, what values you will consider as touchstones, and what risks you are willing to take. A list of the pros and cons may seem incomplete.
How do you make a decision that will not only look good on the outside but feel good on the inside? There is no definitive answer to that question, but you can find out for yourself. Let me give you an example of how one client corrected what might have been a poor decision for who she is.
A couple of years ago, my client was given a great job opportunity. She was offered a job which took advantage of the skills she had learned over 15 years in her current position and would promote her to management. There would be a raise in pay which would increase over two years, dependent upon her performance. She was excited about being in a leadership position. She hadn’t thought of herself as a manger before, so the offer took her by surprise.
When we met, her eyes shining, she talked about the advantages of the new job and the opportunities it presented in terms of the higher salary and recognition. Although a little nervous, after reflection she thought that she was up to the challenge and that she could do all of the things the job entailed. She thought she was ready to accept the offer. However, days and then a week went by and she dragged her feet in responding to the offer.
When I asked her what was stopping her, she shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.” She looked puzzled.
Check in with your body
I asked her to check in with her body and see what it had to say. Often we tend to rely on intellectual reasoning, advice, and “shoulds” and ignore what our bodies have to tell us. I told her to focus on where there was tension in her body and the quality of that energy for a few minutes and see what she could learn. She said that there was a surface layer of excitement, but below that there was a hesitancy pulling back part of her energy. She felt uneasy about something, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her body was warning her of some aspect that wouldn’t be a fit for her.
Project yourself into a decision
I suggested that since she had already looked at the terms of the offer, she should now close her eyes and project herself into that job several months into it. She should take as much time as she needed to watch herself move through what would be a typical work day in this new position. After several minutes, she opened her eyes. She gave a little laugh with a frown and said that it was hard to project what might happen since she hadn’t done this job before, but that her day was okay…and her voice trailed off. She still couldn’t put her finger on what was causing her to be hesitant.
Does this decision match who you are?
I told her to close her eyes again, only this time she should imagine that she had the perfect job for her, for who she was. She shouldn’t worry about trying to decide what kind of work she was involved in before she started the visualization, but just start through her perfect work day. When did she get up? What clothes did she put on? Where did she go? What kind of building was it? What did she do once she went through the doors? Who was there? Where did she eat lunch and with whom, etc.
She settled in for another round and several minutes later, her eyes flew open. “I know what it is that bothers me! I’m not in an office by myself in front of a computer. I’m picking up some materials and going back out to my car. I go to see people at their places of work. I wouldn’t be happy sitting in an office by myself every day. I’d be miserable and always finding excuses to go to where other people were hanging out.”
My client longed for more direct human contact and physical movement at her job than this offer would provide. She decided it wasn’t the right offer—for her, but she felt that she could do better than her current job. She started looking around for other jobs that could use her skills and give her the freedom that she wanted. Ironically, at that point, one of the things she had to deal with was how other people would have dealt with the “great” job offer, but thanks to her body check she knew in her heart that she had made the right decision–for her.
A “Good” Decision
For my client, a good decision was based on both checking in with what her body was trying to tell her and projecting the details of her choice into the future to see how they felt. She needed help in acknowledging what her body was trying to communicate and in following through with a decision that was right for who she was. A decision based on external factors only, without including what your heart and your sense of yourself have to say, is a decision that will fail to satisfy you.
It’s wonderful that we all carry around with us a body which gives us physical clues to what’s right–or wrong–for us. Don’t forget to check inside when making choices!