I’m a Libra. A characteristically indecisive sign of the zodiac. While I don’t place too much weight on astrological classification, this quality does apply to me. Decisions are hard, especially huge, life changing ones. I’m sure many of you can relate (regardless of your zodiac sign). I recently found myself faced with a difficult decision and felt absolutely paralyzed by it. I swung like a pendulum between my options, one day feeling one way, the next day feeling the opposite. It was driving me crazy. Now that my choice is made, I want to offer some tips for people who may be experiencing a similar struggle.
Let me begin by addressing the common practice of listing pros and cons. Is this helpful? Sure, it can be. In my case it was not. Pros and cons seems to work better for more minor choices, like buying a motorcycle versus taking a vacation or building your deck out of wood or composite material. Major decisions, like changing jobs or separating from a relationship, are too complicated to be determined by listing positives and negatives. So what do you do when you feel confused and uncertain? How do you choose when so much rides on your decision?
First, breathe. Seriously. Stress is overwhelming and debilitating. It will cloud your focus and leave you feeling stuck. So take care of yourself. Take time to rest. Get together with friends and loved ones. Go for a walk outside. Engage your body to clear your mind–go for a run, take a hike, do some yoga, whatever you enjoy. Be present in those moments without ruminating on your worries.
Consider who is driving your decision making. It seems like it should be obvious, but sometimes it’s not. It’s quite common for people to act in accordance with what they think others want or need, or in ways that will avoid the negative judgment of others. This often leads to unhappiness or resentment. You need to make your decisions for yourself. Of course there are situations when you have to take others into consideration, like how a divorce will impact children, but don’t ignore yourself in the process. Staying in a marriage for the sake of the kids, for example, is not necessarily in their best interest. Staying at a job you dislike because other people will think you’re crazy for leaving isn’t in your best interest. It’s your life and, in the end, you have to do what’s right for YOU.
Engage your heart, not just your head. Logic loves to dominate decision making. The emphasis tends to be on making the “smart” choice, the one that makes sense, the one that will yield the most obvious results. However, smart and sensible does not always lead to joyful and fulfilled. So be sure to pay attention to what your heart is telling you. Listen to your deep desire even if it doesn’t make sense. Trust your intuition.
Recognize that there is not necessarily a single, right decision to make. We tend to think that our life’s happiness hinges on making the “right” choices and if we choose poorly, we will suffer and be forced to live in misery. Thank goodness life isn’t that simple. There are many paths to fulfillment and finding happiness is about learning to enjoy our experiences as they unfold. It’s never about the destination, it’s always about the journey. So you can’t go wrong. Even if challenges arise from a particular decision, there is wisdom and lessons to be gained from the experience. Sometimes we need setbacks to propel ourselves further in the direction of joy. That’s life.
Trust the universe. It sounds cliche, but it really does help. Imagine your life path as GPS directions. There are multiple routes to choose from, all of which will ultimately get you where you want to go. If you mess up or get lost, you will be rerouted and set back on track. The universe (or God, source, fate, divine energy–whatever you want to call it) wants you to be happy, so relax and follow the signs that provide direction. Trust that you’ll arrive safely and be sure to enjoy the ride.
As I was stuck and wavering, feeling confused and uncertain, I jokingly told someone that I wished the universe would give me a sign. To my surprise, I got my sign the very next day. I was clearly being pushed in a particular direction by some unseen force. This is not to say that I haven’t wondered or wavered since, because I have. But I also know that my focus is best directed on the present. It will only upset or stress me out me to wonder “what if…” or to doubt myself. Experiences may not always be easy, but they will always be valuable. Onward I go.
I hope this helps if you’re grappling with a difficult decision. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment if you have insight to offer and, of course, please share this with anyone who may benefit from it.
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.