Have you ever been faced with something – a decision you have to make – and you sit there thinking “I just don’t know what to do!”. You get the opinion of your partner, your parents, your siblings, your best friend, the nextdoor neighbors second cousin twice removed…
Now I’m not talking about sitting in a restaurant and everyone else has ordered and you can’t figure out what you want. I’m talking potentially life changing things like changing careers, going back to school, moving, leaving your partner, or even having children.
The thing is, chances are, you already have the answer and it scares you so you go seeking either validation that you’re correct in making the, albeit, scary decision, or convincing to stay with the easier comfortable decision. But here’s the thing; depending on the dilemma you’re faced with, those people who you go to for advice may not necessarily have your best interests in mind.
Take our move across the country as an example. If we had gone to my mom – or even my parents-in-law – they may have tried to deter us from moving as it’s so far away, it’s hard to say when we’d be able to see them again. But had we asked our best friend, she might have encouraged us to move as she’d be in the same province – so only 5 hours drive to visit instead of a 5 hour flight! Now neither happened as it was a decision between my husband and myself and our families and our BFF (the only one we’d likely go to for advice) always have our best interests at heart. However, I’ve heard plenty of stories about parents not wanting their kids to move far away from home as they wouldn’t be able to see their grand kids. Also, on the flip, I’ve heard stories of kids – adults – who don’t want their parents to move away because they don’t want to lose their “built in baby sitter”.
This is pure selfishness.
Now it’s one thing to go to someone removed from the decision you’re trying to make and use them as a sounding board. Quite often you just need to talk it out and talking outloud to yourself is usually frowned upon. Most likely, you’ll come to the decision you need to make yourself and the person you’re talking to is there just to smile and nod as you work through the conundrum yourself.
So what can you do if you don’t have a sounding board – or the problem is too much for others to know? I’m a fan of lists. You know the one – pros and cons.
So using our move across the country…
- PRO: We chose the move. CON: I’m military – if I don’t choose a place we want to move to, we may end up somewhere we don’t want to be.
- PRO: We’ll be super close to our BFF (yes, that is a pro I considered) CON: We’ll be super far away from family.
- PRO: My mom/hubby’s parents are in good health. CON: If something happens, we can’t be there immediately.
- PRO: We get to drive across the country. CON: With our cats.
- PRO: We get to live in a beautiful city in a great part of the country. CON: Winters in Ottawa.
Now this isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. I try not to base a decision on circumstantial possibilities like whether or not we like living in the city, or enjoy working in the office. With military, people are constantly posted in and out. I got lucky and had really great staff through both posting seasons but it could have easily gone the other direction!
In life, you’re going to have to make many decisions. Most will be nothing with little to no impact on your life. Those big scary ones, however, you need to be brave and REALLY look deep. Ultimately, you need to do what’s best for YOU.