How to make life changing decisions

Making life changing decisions can be terrifying. But with a little bit of self-belief, trust and accountability, you can do anything you set your mind to.

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Right now, lives are changing. Hugely. Women and the BAME community are being unproportionally furloughed and made redundant. Some people who have been furloughed or who have lost their jobs are searching out new opportunities; they’re retraining, they’re starting their own businesses…

Then there are the ones who have said goodbye to relationships during lockdown. The ones who have grieved and been metaphorically locked in a house overflowing with tender memories. Absence is what makes the heart grow fonder, right? So spending 24 hours a day together when you were like ships in the night before might just have forced that partnership into absolute clarity. Allowing you to see the direction you need to go in. Decisions have been made. New lives have been forged. 

It sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? It sounds like these women have got everything sorted, and even if they’ve had to go through hell to get there, they are now on the road to reaching their goals, and they are sure to be happier for it.

Well, we can only hope. Fingers crossed for them, and for you, if you are someone who has embarked on a new adventure during lockdown.

how to make life changing decisions - grandiose days

Where, though, does this leave the rest of us? Those of us who have had just as hard a time during this worldwide pandemic as anyone else, but whose lives haven’t changed. Of course, some don’t want anything to change. Maybe lockdown even helped them to focus. Maybe their relationships have grown stronger.

But everyone else, those in between, those who want to change but are stuck because big decisions are scary and even small ones can feel vast and daunting, don’t know which way to turn. We can admire the ones who have done what they needed to do, and we can envy the ones who didn’t do anything because there was no need. Yet that leaves us in a strange kind of limbo, knowing we’re unhappy, knowing we need to make changes but paralysed when it comes to doing something about the situation. 

If that sounds like you (and I’m sure it will sound like some of you), then we’ve got some excellent news for you. We have some bona fide great ways for you to learn how to make life-changing decisions. If you’re stuck right now knowing you need to make some kind of decision but not knowing where to start or even what your choices might be, we’ve got your back. Remember, we’ll all in this together, and the world is a weird old place, so you do you and make the decisions that will keep you smiling.

See the power

The most important thing to realise when you know you have to make some kind of decision, no matter whether it’s big or small, but especially if it’s one that will ultimately go on to change your life (hopefully for the better), is that every decision you make has power. Every decision you make will start a chain of events that will have consequences. 

This sounds absolutely terrifying. No wonder people have trouble actually coming to any kind of conclusion. 

But wait… 

What if this wasn’t a scary thing at all? What if it was something extraordinary and freeing and thrilling? Look at it this way, and the fact that your decision making is powerful and has a ripple effect included means you can change lots of things with just one decision. You won’t have to take apart each and every element of your life and decide this way or that; one big move could do it all. Of course, the key is to analyse the chain reaction that will come from a decision, and this is the hard part. Yet it’s much easier if you work backward.

Have a goal in mind and go from there to your current position, working out precisely what you need to do at each step. When you get back to where you are now, you’ll have an entire plan mapped out, and decisions will be much more comfortable.

Trust your instincts

Way, way back when the Neanderthals ruled the earth (but after the dinosaurs, obviously), instinct was King. It was all these guys had since their brains couldn’t cope with complex information, and decision-making would have been way beyond them. So they did everything by instinct. They didn’t stop to think (they couldn’t), and whatever move they made was governed solely by the need to survive, which could have meant running from danger, hunting for food, finding a mate, or anything else. 

Now, we’re better than that these days. Our brains grew, and we started having a conscience. We evolved. Yet that gut instinct that worked so well for so long is still with us. Remember those times when you just knew something was wrong, so you changed your plans? Or when something felt off about someone, so you stepped away from them?

All those times you had a funny feeling about this, that, or the other, that was your instinct speaking. Did you listen? If you did, you probably saved yourself a lot of trouble. If you went ahead anyway… I just hope you’re okay. 

What I’m saying is, trust your gut. Don’t let it rule every single decision you make – sometimes it does have to be overruled – but listen to it. If something you’re planning to do seems dodgy or doesn’t ‘spark joy’, maybe work out a different way to do things. If, on the other hand, your ideas are making you excited for the future and you can’t wait to get started, get going, you’ve likely made the right choice. 

Do it

You’ve made a decision. You’re going to go to fashion college instead of continuing your journey towards office management. You’re asking your crush out. You’re ending things with your current partner because you realise there is no future. You’re taking the debt help you’ve been putting off. You’re moving to a new house, city, country. Heck, you’re going off-grid and taking up your freelance digital nomad dream. You’ve finally made up your mind, you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, you might even have a plan in place. 

And then what? What happens next? 

Will you follow through on your plans, or will you stick with the status quo and forever wonder what if? It’s easier to do the latter. You can tell yourself you gave it all a good shot, and you tried your hardest, so you don’t feel guilty about potentially missing out on a huge opportunity. The former is much more challenging – changing comfortable things (which is not the same as good or enjoyable) is never going to be a quick process. Yet once it’s done, the relief you’ll feel and the new experiences you can have because you’re looking to a brighter future are immeasurable. 

In other words, once you make your decision, you have to follow it up. You have to do something. You have to act. There are two parts to every choice; making it and doing it. You have to do both if you want change to happen. Yes, this might be uncomfortable, but this discomfort will be short-lived in the grand scheme of things. In contrast, your new life doing whatever, living wherever, loving whoever, is going to be long-term (maybe even forever and ever). 

Speak to people

Making a decision and then speaking that decision out loud to friends and family or complete strangers online is different from making a life-changing decision and then keeping it all to yourself. When you tell other people, you suddenly have a job to do; a duty to perform. You will be held accountable, and although they might not come right out and say it, those loved ones of yours will always be wondering why you got so excited about your future plans and then just sort of faded back into your usual humdrum ways. 

Of course, if you change your mind, that’s fine. We’re allowed to do that. We’re allowed to make mistakes and backtrack. In fact, it’s far better to do this than to keep ploughing on into a situation that is going to be potentially harmful. Otherwise, when people are aware of your plans, you’ve got even more reason to go ahead with them. Prove to yourself and others you can change your life for the better. 

Now, you do need to be wary of who you tell what to. If you’re planning on quitting your job to start your own modern eyeglass fashion business, telling a work colleague or someone who knows your boss might be a mistake if you’re not ready for your employer to find out. But there’s nothing stopping you from confiding in someone you can trust – someone who you know will hold you accountable and help you in pursuing your new dream venture.

As with everything in life, thinking before you act is crucial. It can save some additional problems you hadn’t even considered before. 

Be flexible

Finally, if you have a flexible approach to your decision making, it will be easier. As mentioned above, mistakes happen, and minds will change. Opportunities will disappear and reappear or becoming a little different from what you expected. 

When you are flexible, life is much easier. Have an end goal in sight, but allow for twists and turns along the path to reaching it. In this way, you won’t become disheartened, and you’ll be much more likely to push forward with your new, amazing, exciting life! 

When embarking on my own freelance journey, I didn’t have any plans in place. I ‘accidentally’ fell onto thr freelance path after being made redundant from my job. But going in without any concrete plans or strict expectations allowed me to explore my options, try new things, and figure out what works best for me. And do you know what? It worked! Me, the girl who loves planning things, is saying that having no plan worked wonders. Being flexible allowed me to figure out what works best for me and my business. Going forward, I’m going to embrace the uknown and continue to approach new projects with a sense of flexibility.

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