he thing about Big Decisions is that they are …well…Big! They usually have implications that are scary, daunting or just different from the norm. A decision results in a change of momentum or direction. They are life’s pivot points; Sliding Door’s moments; crossroads.
And that makes them difficult to make for some of us. There are those who relish that sense of the unknown, the difference, the change. They like risks or are unafraid of them. Then there are others who are, at least, able to control and conquer any fears of them.
Then there are those of us who dislike or even fear change and the unknown so much that Big Decisions paralyse us to such an extent that we avoid making them. It may be that we have had the same hairstyle for year even though we don’t really like it any more or know it no longer suits us, but we don’t really know what else to have, in case it suits us even less. Or it may be that we never get around to redecorating the house, even though we know it desperately needs doing, because we want to change the colour but can’t decide what to, in case it doesn’t look right and we have to do it again. Or we may always go to the same holiday destination, even though it isn’t as good as it used to be and we don’t like it too much now but at least we know what we’re getting and somewhere else could be worse. Or maybe we are still in a job we have long got bored with but at least we know what we are doing and the people are OK: somewhere else might be worse. Or we stay in a loveless marriage because we might end up alone and will have to find a new house to live in and might not be able to manage financially.
Get the picture? Does this sound like you?
If it does then that’s Ok. We are designed to be wary of change and risks because that keeps us safe. It is a natural response for most people. The difference between those who don’t like Big Decisions and those that do, is not the initial response, it is the way we then deal with that response.
Those of us who try to avoid making them often head straight for the negatives of the decision, the “what ifs?” What if it is the wrong decision? What if I hate the results of the decision and can’t go back on it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fail?
Then we procrastinate about making it: maybe now isn’t the right time; maybe I need some more information; I need to make sure I’ve thought this through properly first; I don’t have time to think about this right now, I’ll come back to it.
Sometimes we just ignore it or make excuses for not making it: the paintwork is not that bad really; some days I enjoy my job; there are worse places to be.
Those who embrace change tend to see the positive outcomes more than the negative possibilities. They trust that, even if it doesn’t work out, they will find a solution that will. They listen to their gut instinct and get on with it.
Those of us who don’t find change easy often end up in situations where we become forced to make the change by factors other than ourselves. You get made redundant, so you have to find another job anyway. Your spouse leaves you because they are just as fed up as you are and they’re not scared to move on. You haven’t been performing properly at work because you’ve been so fed up with it and now management have noticed and you’re on some kind of support plan and on your way out. Then at least, you don’t have to make the decision and you can say “it was out of my hands” so if it does go wrong, you don’t have to take responsibility.
Oh, I know how it works. I’ve done it enough times. I worked at the same school for 10 years. I loved it. I knew I should move for promotion reasons and career development but I was comfortable. I went on Maternity Leave for a year and then moved to a new house further away and I resigned very reluctantly. I had no choice. It was too far to commute. The decision was taken out of my hands. I still went back later even though I had to travel (it was easier to get a job back there than to interview somewhere else that didn’t know me) but when I did have to interview to go back permanently, I relied too much on my previous reputation and didn’t get it. I was devastated. And I finally had to move on. I got a job in a school nearer to my home, with super people and it all worked out just fine.
Same story with my marriage, but I won’t bore you with that one. Suffice to say I wasted quite a few years on that one and was much happier after I made the Big Decision to leave.
So how do you go about changing your mindset from avoiding the Big Decisions to embracing them?
First of all, do your research. What do you need to know in order to make an informed decision? Get the facts and figures because then you will know you have thought it through properly. Make time to do it. Don’t let yourself of the hook here. You will feel more in control if you act.
Write down all the things that could go wrong with making this decision. Then write down all the things that could improve as a result. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to argue against all the negatives.
Notice how you are feeling when you are writing your lists. How do you feel when you are thinking about the negatives? How do you feel when thinking about the positives? Which one is stronger? Trust your gut instinct.
Make a list of all the Big Decisions you have made (or been forced to make) in the past. How did they turn out? What helped you make those decisions? Is there something that worked for you that you can use in this situation? This is your evidence base. Your head might be telling you that you can’t make these changes for whatever reason, but is there evidence for this or is it just your protective instinct kicking in? Is it justified or just fearful?
Lastly trust that you will handle whatever decision you make. Even if you decide not to make any changes, if you’ve thought it all through it IS a decision not just inertia and you can be content with that.
If you need any help with going through the process of making a Big Decision, then why not get in touch with me? Click here to drop me an e mail and arrange a time for a free half hour chat to see if I can be of any use to you. Or contact me through Facebook @opendoorthinking
Sometimes you just need to talk it through with someone who is removed from the situation and will give no advice, just ask you the questions you need to think things through.
You have all the answers, you just need to take control of your thinking.