I think we can all agree that life can be a real b*tch at times, as it puts us in situations that require us to make difficult decisions – decisions that, no matter what, would entail heartache, headache, or both. Some of them require a true sacrifice, while others involve big risks.
To help you deal with such trying moments in your life, here are four questions you could and should ask yourself before making the final decision. I hope at the end of the list, you will find the answer that is already in your heart and make the right and best choice. So here we go:
1. “What does my heart say?”
Listen to your heart. Breathe in, breathe out, and listen. If it doesn’t work, try a few more times. Close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out, and listen… Don’t focus on the big mess of thoughts in your head right now. Focus on what your gut feeling tells you. Find that answer and hold on to it.
Always trust your instinct. I’m not saying that your parents’ or your friends’ advice and suggestions are bad for you – and we should always be appreciative of the love and concern from our loved ones, no matter how much they may bug us – but at the end of the day, it is you who knows yourself best.
You are the one who truly understand what you want and what you do not want. Deep down, you know what’s best for yourself.
This is your life. You must be its dictator. Don’t let someone else do your thinking and soul searching for you. The responsibility to seek the truth inside your heart lies in your hands. Don’t let other people’s guesses about your life, or your future, sway or mislead you. Use your own intuition.
It is not always easy to listen to your heart, and it works differently for different people. For some, the best way to do so is to go out for a quiet walk alone; the peace helps them sieve out the more significant things in their minds. For others, running or hitting the gym, and experiencing the pain and the weakening of the physical body, helps to clear up their heads. (This is why many athletes are such clear-headed, focused and determined people.) In any way, always listen to your heart.
2. “What am I afraid of?”
Difficult decisions come with high stakes. When there is much to gain, there is much to lose. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of losing? Is it money? Love? Reputation? Dignity? Popularity?
Or is it because you’re afraid of disappointment, to lose hope in yourself if you fail? Sometimes we are afraid of making big decisions that involve huge changes in our lives because we fear that if we do fail, we might not be able to pick ourselves up again.
To counter this fear, you need to accept that we all fall from grace from time to time. Know that no one is invincible, or immune to a little misstep here and there, and occasionally, a huge one. We are all humans, not gods. Well, even angels and gods can fall from power.
And yet, as ordinary people, each of us possesses a special gift: the resilience of the human spirit – the ability to bounce back each time we fall. Fall down seven times; stand up eight. When life knocks you down, stand back up and keep trying.
Sometimes, we don’t wish to be the one making the decision also because we are afraid that if we were to be wrong, the responsibility of it all falls solely on us. There is no one else to blame, no one else to point the finger at. However, you should also realize that everyone makes mistake.
No one is perfect, or 100% right all the time. Yes, there would be a price to pay if you fail, but then again, you would also gain something in return: a lesson. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Think of it as meant to be. Be determined to get something out of the decision and the experience that follows, whether you succeed or fail, rise or fall.
A Japanese proverb reads: “Anzuru yori umu ga yasushi.” Its literal meaning is that giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it. What it serves to explain is that the fear you experience is probably greater than the danger itself. Your attempt is likely to be easier than expected. So if you are afraid, then do it afraid. Trust me, courage will follow.
3. “Who/what am I doing this for?”
You have to figure this out right from the start. This is what will anchor you during the fight and the struggle following the moment the decision is made. This is what you will go back to, again and again, whenever you feel discouraged, disappointed or hopeless.
Is it just for passion? Is it also for money, or success? Is there something else? Often, our bigger goals are combined with other small or hidden goals, which we fail to perceive or choose to ignore. Never let yourself be denied of the truth that is already inside you.
One day the suppressed truth will pop up when you least expect it and tell you that everything you’ve worked for is done on the basis of a lie you tell yourself. So be honest with yourself. Know who you are and what you want. Take this as a learning process to get to know yourself better as a person.
When you know what you want, make it your goal. Focus your mind on it, and be happy about it. Remember: Positive emotions will put positive energies towards your goal. This positivity will make your journey towards achieving this goal smoother, as it will attract other good things along the way.
The law of attraction can work in many mysterious ways. Make a conscious effort to stop worrying. Think about the good things, not the worst-case scenarios.
You don’t always need to take great leaps of faith. Sometimes, it’s the baby steps that matter. Take one step at a time; take each day as it comes. There is no shortcut to success. If you want it, you’re going to have to work for it. But always keep in mind: Enjoy life, not endure it.
4. “If I don’t do this now, will I regret in the future?”
Yes, regrets. We all hate regrets because regret makes us feel empty, like something is amiss in our life. Regret makes us feel like we have done something that we shouldn’t have, or we haven’t done something that we should have. Regret makes you wish that you could turn back time, so there’s a second chance for you to make things right.
Regret can be addictive, because it puts us in a cycle in which we imagine the could-haves, and then become disappointed upon realizing the impossibility of them becoming real. To relieve ourselves of the pain, we go back to imagining again because then, in our minds, we feel powerful and in control once more.
For every decision you make, there is an opportunity cost. Simply put, in life, you win some; you lose some. You can’t have everything. This especially applies to time. You do not have all the time in the world. Life is short. I say this because life is unpredictable; one day you are here and the next you could be gone.
Well, the truth is, we don’t have full control over everything, even if we’d like to think that we do. Lost chances can keep us up all night because they prove that things can come and go without our approval, or without us being at all prepared for their departure. An opportunity does not need your permission before slipping right through your fingers.
When you choose to stay in your comfort zone instead of stepping out of it, you might miss out on an opportunity that will not come by a second time in your life. In the worst of scenarios, regret leads us to hate ourselves. Our lack of courage and prudence makes us feel so small and so incapable of achieving something bigger than our present self.
Regret is a powerful emotion that can topple even the most spirited person. Do not let regret into your life. Let the could-haves be. What is in the past is exactly that, in the past. It cannot be changed.
At the end of the day, we all want to be winners in life. We want to know that we have made the right decisions. Success is a matter of perception, just as happiness is. They are both very subjective. Keep in mind that no decision is purely good, or bad. No matter what decision you make in the end, believe that it is your best choice. Choose to be positive and confident about it.
In ending, I’ll leave you with a quote from Paulo Coelho:
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
Listen to your heart. Be bold. Set a goal. Take a chance.