02 May A Great Decision
This is the time of year that I often encounter a lot of people who are in decision making mode. In particular, graduating seniors are on the cusp of some big moves in their lives. High school seniors are trying to decide whether to go to college and if so, which college and which degree program. College graduates are deciding what to do next as well, including whether to seek further education or to get on about finding that job that will begin what they consider their career track. Of course, there are always people from all walks of life who are making big decisions all the time. Should I stay married? Should I look for a new job? Should we move to a new city? Is it time to retire? All these and many, many more decisions are on the minds of many, many people every day.
When I see people in therapy who are struggling with big decisions, I try to remain neutral on what they should actually decide (unless it is something obvious like deciding to live a healthier lifestyle) but I do try to help them past the emotional hurdles that make decision making even more difficult. The truth is, you can’t know all the outcomes of decisions made and at some point, you have to say to yourself that you’ve done due diligence, have consulted knowledgeable people you trust, and now have to make the choice.
At this point in the process, I usually have two pieces of advice. First, after the decision is made, what you focus on is crucial. That is, I see people who are so afraid they have chosen poorly, they lament and wring their hands so much that the only outcome they can see is the bad outcome. Then it can become a sort of self-fulfilling process in which they focus so hard on bad outcomes, they move toward them. I say to my clients, “Now your goal is to make this into a great choice! Look for evidence that this is a great choice!”
The second point seems counter to the first in some ways but is so important to remember. A vast majority of decisions are not irrevocable. That is, almost always, if you find that what you decided is not going to work out despite your best efforts and positive attitude, go back to the drawing board to come at it again. As an example, I did not become a therapist until I got into my late 40s. The other things I did professionally were good things but ultimately, for me to feel fulfilled as someone who has always felt called to help people, it took me a while to find my true place.
If you are up against a hard decision, I wish you well. Do your due diligence. Ask people who you know to have your best interests at heart what should do. Speak to experts and people who know what may be ahead for you. Then make the choice! And when you do, put all your good energy into making the choice a great choice and don’t forget that if you have to change course again, you can.