Have you ever had times in your life that you had choices to make and didn’t know how to make them? Some of those decisions were life-altering. Others are relatively easy to make, like what you’re going to have for dinner. When facing choices that will have long-term repercussions and you’re unsure which direction to take, don’t fret. As I pursue these studies, I am facing some more challenging choices in my life.

Furthering my education is something that I love doing. Not a day goes by that I don’t try to learn something new. Sometimes it might be a word or phrase, while other times, it might be a new skill. The more I understand, the better I feel about things overall. I’m struggling, though, for a couple of reasons. One of my good friends earned a promotion at work. My name has come up as a replacement for her, and I’m flattered. It would be more money, but I’d have to give up a lot to make it happen. I’m still weighing my options.

Not long ago, I contemplated moving overseas to teach English as a second language. I was feeling restless and pretty much unwanted. I didn’t know which direction to go, and I decided to pray and do some meditation because of my faith. It was after taking some time for me that I discovered I needed to stay put. I had this nagging feeling that I’m supposed to do more in this area, and I felt that I wasn’t supposed to be alone. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know yet, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I give anything I do my all. I care about the work I do and the people I associate with frequently.

So how do you handle things when you have tough decisions to make, and you have no idea which way to go? For one thing, don’t let the stress get the better of you. I know you’re going to tell me that’s a lot easier said than done. Sometimes we have to learn how to manage the stress we deal with every day. Several people have told me over the years to stop sweating the small stuff. There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement. The bottom line is that when you stress the small stuff, you add more stress to your body, contributing to more depression and anxiety.

If possible, give yourself some time. When we make rash decisions, it’s usually the wrong decision. But when we take the time to sort through the choices in front of us and evaluate the outcomes, we tend to make better decisions.

Weigh the pros and cons. Every choice and decision we make should have pros and cons identified before making decisions. For example, in my case, I had to look at what I would gain by taking the promotion and what I lose. I did not take the promotion at this time. Not only would it have been a travel issue, But I would lose a lot of my independence. I wasn’t ready to lose those things yet.

Think about your goals and values. What’s important to you, and what are you willing to sacrifice in those choices? What do you gain from those choices? You are the only one who can determine what’s important to you. As much as you may want to please others, you have to be OK with your decisions. After all, you and your family are the ones who have to live with those decisions.

Consider all the possibilities. I have an analytical brain, so I break down all the different options when looking at other choices. It’s a blessing in a curse. Sometimes I psychoanalyze so much that I make things that are too difficult. The hard part is figuring out what’s suitable for you.

Talk out the choices that you need to make to different folks. Sometimes getting feedback from others helps you make decisions. Sometimes you may not talk about it, but you can internalize those conversations in your head. Talking things out isn’t for everyone, and it may not be for you. But you can write down a pro and con list to do all kinds of different outlets to determine the best choice for you. Perhaps you keep a diary and log down all the things you’re feeling and the facts you know. There are no right or wrong ways to make choices because everyone is different—all of us process items differently.

The last item is to plan how you’ll tell others. If you’re taking a better opportunity and leaving to do something different, there will be some anxiousness about talking to people who will be affected. I’ve had to do that in the past, and it’s not always a comfortable feeling. While some people are happy for you, others do not want to see you succeed. There are lots of unknowns when you make choices to make those positive changes in your life. If I were to have taken the promotion offered, I don’t think I would have been happy. Happiness is a critical component in a choice factor. If you aren’t satisfied, then your choice is going to reflect that. Happiness is one of the best ways to excel in life and work.

No matter what choices you may face, I hope you make choices you are comfortable with within the long run. I don’t know what your journey has in store for you, but I know that your life can change for the better when you take the time to make good decisions. Have a great day, everyone.

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