First of all, congratulations! If you are reading this, I think it’s safe to say that you made a decision. See? You can do it after all. So how did you make that choice to click on this? I’m guessing you decided to read this because something struck a chord within you. Maybe you were intrigued by the topic, or maybe you are precisely that person who can’t make a decision. Ever. Or, maybe you just wanted to see what this is about. But all of these reasons behind your decision to read this have something in common: they included both some sort of intuitive action and feeling, as well as some a touch of intellect and intrigue. This is how we make the best decisions. We balance out our emotions and intuitions with our intellect and mind. The very best decisions are made with the heart and the brain. Please remember: you need both your head and your heart to fully follow in the path of your desires.
Because face it – decisions are hard! Whether it’s what to wear for a job interview or what grad school to apply to, or whether it’s what to eat for lunch or whether to buy that expensive shirt…whether to stay in a relationship that feels like a dead-end or be single…the emotional turmoil and anxiety seems to always come back into our lives. It won’t stay away. We meticulously write down our tidy (…and lengthy) pro/con list, thoroughly listing each and every pro and con of every possible decision. And I mean EVERY pro and con. Feeling disheartened, we glumly look at our outcome: each list is equal. To make matters worse, you decide, with 100% certainty that “decision A” is right while lying in your bed at night. You are certain. Then, you wake up the next morning with a pit in your stomach, feeling 100% certain that “decision B” is actually the “right” choice. This is ridiculously stressful! It takes up an overbearing amount of mental space and energy, which in turn causes your stress level to rocket. But what can you do exactly? Of course it is generally a good idea to weigh the different options in your decision, and to pay attention to the logic surrounding each possibility, but is it really necessary to ponder these decisions for hours? To feel physically ill with doubt uncertainty? No. No…it’s just not worth it.
This is why we need to pay more attention to how we are approaching these decisions, and what is driving us to worry so much. Comfort often plays an overwhelming role in decision, as well as in anxiety. Comfort and fear. The two opponents. Sometimes it is hard to leave your comfort zone for something seemingly better because of your fears associated with something going wrong. Fear is a powerful motivator in life – it can cause us to run from things that may actually be healthy and good. We have to be stronger than our fear. We have to have hope. Facing our fears can strengthen our decisions – they can give us strength and power over a situation. But when we do not know what a decision will lead to, we may be afraid of the outcome and therefore become anxious or unsettled, or worry constantly. But this is when it is vital to not let fear get the best of us. Decisions are what change and shape our lives, they are what push us along on our own trail, rather than just allowing us to lazily follow along on a surveyor belt. Decisions empower us. They put us in the driver’s seat. We have to make decisions – they are inevitable. Even if we sit back passively and let life happen, the decision NOT to make a decision will be our choice, and this will win the game. It will beat us. Let fear empower you. Power can be remarkable if you use it the right way. If you pass up on a meaningful opportunity to make a choice, you will let wonderful things slip out of your reach.
Likewise, don’t keep pondering every little part of every decision you made – what’s done is done. Rethinking every detail will only paralyze you and leave you feeling stuck. If something goes wrong, make a new decision – nothing is final. If you crave ambiguity, take a chance and make the “risky” decision. You don’t have to be certain of each decision you make, you just need to follow through, and listen to yourself as to what is right for you. If you want to try something new and refreshing, if you want that adrenaline rush – then chase it. Make the edgy decision sometimes, as this could be precisely what you need. There is rarely a decision that is inherently “right” or “wrong.” What is better for one person, does not mean it is better for everyone. So realize deeply that you are the only person who has ever experienced this exact decision at this precise time, with your individual mind. This is why you are the one who must make the decision for yourself. You know best. Trust yourself.
One of the reasons decisions cause us so much anxiety is because they give us power. They put us in the driver’s seat…and to be honest, this can be terrifying! As Marianne Williams said, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Does this speak to your heart and soul? You are the only person in the universe who can control yourself, and who can ultimately shape your life. So when you feel like you have too much power over something you feel uncertain about, you might begin to feel loss and alone. You will probably be scared, and that’s not unusual. So be gentle on yourself, and realize that if you feel lost, use the power you have to find a new path. If you can acknowledge that your nerves may be serving a purpose, you will have mastered something phenomenal. YOU can actually change yourself. You can change your life. You can change the world! You just have to believe that your mind and heart know what is best, and then make the appropriate decision with confidence.
So how do you actually make a choice without going crazy? Following your head and heart are equally important, but ultimately they should be guided by your individual values and morals. If you have the goal of living a life that expresses your values, you will ultimately create a life that you care deeply about. And a life that cares deeply about you. Our very best decisions are guided by what we love, what loves us, what we care about, what we are passionate about. This is because these are unique to each and every one of us. Stop being afraid of your own judgment. Trust yourself. Love yourself, and strengthen the bonds between your passions and your reasoning. Please follow your heart, follow your passions, and live the life you love. BUT… you have to bring your brain along on this journey. This isn’t a fantasy world, but it can be a much better world if you use your brain in the most effective, heartfelt way possible. Think of it like checks and balances. Try to begin by listening to your heart and gut, your intuitions, but before finalizing what you want or need, you must allow your brain to be the boss. Maybe what you want is not realistic – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it may just need to be altered, or rerouted. Use your intellect to find new ways to go in the direction of what you want, deep down. Your intellect should act as the overseer – it should be attentive to any consequences of your decision, and then assist you by fulfilling your heart’s needs in the most reasonable way. In other words, your happiness should be the most important and valuable goal when making a decision or taking the next step forward. But you must remember to let your intellect oversee your desires, and find you a way to listen to your heart in the real world.
This disconnect between the heart and the brain can be the hardest part of making a decision, and is often the cause of our struggles. This is probably why you are sitting here anxiously, tapping your toes, and wanting to throw away your pro con list. First, remember that too much logic kills the decision and skews the entire process because life is unpredictable and uncertain. You never can know with absolute certainty what is going to happen, so no matter how many logical pros, cons, views, and facts you write down on paper, the result may still be different than you expect. This is because life is not always rational or predictable, it likes to throw curve balls. But don’t panic! This is a good thing. This should help you to realize that anything can happen, and that your decision is not always as black and white as you make it. Your day to day decisions are not is not going to tie you down to something for the rest of your life – these choices are simply stepping stones that accelerate you forward into a masterpiece that you have the power to design. But…how do you balance your heart and brain, especially in emotional situations? Maybe you love someone, but you realize they are not right for you. Maybe you found the perfect job, but it pays minimum wage and you actually cannot afford to take it. These are times when you need to be gentle, yet tough on your heart. You need to let your brain figure out options that are doable, but that also help to fulfill your heart’s desires. And these are often the hardest decision you will ever have to make in life. Be careful not to let the noise in your busy, ADD, anxious brain outweigh your feelings. Even if you are panicking, you can do this. You can make this choice. In fact, I PROMISE you can do this. Anyways, what’s the absolute worst case scenario? Most likely, you can even handle this outcome!
Now, this is important. Once you’ve made a new decision, stick with it. Try it out. Adjust to it if you can, and love it. If you constantly rethink your choices and stress over every little minute detail of everything, you will inevitably feel agitated and uncomfortable in your own skin. This is where mindset comes in. Instead of rethinking your past decisions and focusing on what could have happened, focus on what led you to where you are now, and how you made this decision. Leave the “what ifs” in the past, and live in the now. Of course there are times when things do not turn out as you had hoped. But when life trails off the map you expected, you have to fight. Be strong and resilient and created a new path full of new decisions. Just always remember to keep moving forward. Don’t dwell on what’s already happened, as dwelling in the past will leave you stagnant – your life will be at a standstill. So empower yourself by taking the next step. Be content with what you decide by realizing that you still have your entire life to continue chasing your dreams. Be strong enough to continue to put one foot forward, even when your life does not go as planned. Life is a series of little decisions that change every second of every day. This is why you don’t need to panic anymore about decisions. Just go with what you truly believe, and readjust from there! Things often work out better than you expect when you let go, relax, and trust yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s approval. You only need to respect and trust yourself. Invest your heart into what provides you nourishment, brain food, love, and happiness. You are the only one who knows what ignites your soul. And, you are the only one who knows what is best for you. Your heart is powerful, and just needs a little bit of oversight. So if you have faith in your heart’s desires, and you allow your intellect to work with and respect your heart, you will be making decisions in no time.