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By Katie Marshall
There are so many decisions to make in a day. Some are easily resolved, while others feel worthy of a pro/con list and several discussions with a diverse group of friends and family members. Still there are others that feel as though they should be simple and easy to answer, yet cause you strife in their own specific ways. It’s the shorter distances that make an impact on a car rather than long highway miles. Similarly, it can be the little decisions that haunt us, not just the big moments.
Sometimes, it feels like the harder you try to listen to your heart, the softer the sound it makes, to an almost discernible point. Our hearts seem to go quiet when faced with two or more opportunities, both of which seem as though they could result positively, neither of which immediately inspires an answer. In these moments, it feels like our instincts go on radio silence. How can you make the right choice if you can’t hear your instincts?
It’s been said that if you really can’t make a decision, flip a coin. Not because it lets the fates decide, but because in the milliseconds between flipping the coin and watching it land, your true instincts – what you really want – comes bursting out of your heart straight to the forefront of your brain. It may be less than a second, but that jolt is enough to get your heart talking.
To make the hard choice in the face of multiple options, you might need something like that millisecond jolt. Here are 10 questions that you can ask yourself the next time you need to make a decision – everything from which school to attend to which movie to see and everything in between – to crank the volume on your instincts all the way back up to where you can hear them clearly.
1. What do I definitely not want?
Knowing what you don’t want is as important as knowing what you do. One doesn’t exist without the other. The answers you’re looking for are on the other side of what you know you definitely don’t want.
2. What would I choose to do if that decision would not impress or disappoint anyone else?
Our decision-making is influenced by our social contexts far beyond what we often recognize. It is essentially against human nature to not worry about “being acceptable,” and yet, paradoxically, the opposite is true for the human spirit.
3. In 10 years from now, where do I want to be?
The days add up. They become weeks and months and years. What you do each day is ultimately, what you do with your life. What you do now is an indication of where you’re headed. If you can identify where you want to be, you can figure out what to do each day.
4. Do I want to do this? (Immediate response – yes or no).
Relax for a minute. Take a few deep breaths. What is your snap answer to this question? Don’t worry if both responses come at once (that’s fairly normal). But pay attention to the first response that comes to mind. Ask why you feel the way you do. You’ll either understand your root desire or unveil your root fear.
5. Do I actually need this?
Does this thing serve me in the way I assume it does? Evaluate critically.
6. How would I feel if I could not have this?
Sometimes you really do only know what you have when it’s gone. As that is the case, imagine you’re already there.
7. What if I had to do this?
If the aspect of “choice” were removed from the situation, how would you feel about it then? Often the paradox of choice (not being happy with what we have because something else is possible) skews our sense of what we actually want and don’t.
8. What if today was the only day this option was available?
There’s nothing like a “deadline” to push you to finish a project, or in this case, make a decision. Imagine you only had the rest of the day to decide definitely whether or not something (or someone) was right for you.
9. Is this a want or a need? (And if this is a want, would I want this even if I had everything I needed?)
For example, wanting to be “successful” because you feel like a failure is not genuinely wanting success (though it feels like it). Imagine if you felt completely competent and loved and worthy. Would you want success then?
10. What if I chose neither?
What if you didn’t have to choose what you wanted? What if it didn’t matter? What if you could just live your life and see what happens? What then?
Take a deep breath. Smile. What do you want to do? Something in you already knows. Listen to that voice. Trust it. And go.
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