Spirit > Becoming > How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life

How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life

Deciding to move to Africa for three years wasn’t easy, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made! Here’s how to make a difficult decision in your life – both by looking backwards at what you’ve learned and forwards at who you want to be.

I decided I wanted to live overseas one afternoon in my sister’s kitchen. I sat on a tall stool, spread my arms wide and said, “I want to live a BIG, exciting life! I want to get to the end of my life, and know that I had adventures and took risks! I want to LIVE.”

So I started looking for jobs overseas – and I ended up in Kenya, East Africa (if you want to change your life forever, read Moving to Africa? 10 things You Need to Know). And that, my friend, is the best tip on how to make a decision: look forwards at who you want to be and where you want to go in your life. Unfortunately, not all decisions are that easy. And even more unfortunately, we sometimes ignore those strong pulls or calls on our lives. But not you! You’re searching for tips on how to make a decision – and I’m here to show you how to look forwards.

Here on SheBlossoms, I encourage women to look upwards and inwards for wisdom and inspiration. I focus on four main aspects of our personalities and lives – and I call the categories Creative You, Healthy You, Connected You, and Daring You.

Today, our focus is Daring You. Do you dare make a decision that will change life forever?

How to Make a Decision by Looking Forwards

making difficult decisions

How to Make a Decision

Looking ahead to who you want to be and where you want your life to go is the best, most effective decision making strategy. Why? Because if you decide that this is who you want to be, then you can align your choices to be that person.

For example, I knew I wanted to be the type of woman who lived all over the world, who lived big, who took chances and went on adventures. So, it was easy for me to decide to move to Africa! That decision fit with who I saw myself as, who I wanted to become, and how I wanted to look back on my life.

Today, you’re struggling to make a decision today because:

  • You don’t know which choice is better in the long run
  • You’re afraid to make the wrong choice, and be in a worse situation than you are now
  • You believe both choices are good, in different ways
  • You might regret your decision
  • You’re worried what people will think, say, or do
  • You’re nervous about how your family will react
  • You don’t know how your decision will affect your children or loved ones
  • You think the pros and cons of each choice are more or less equal
  • You don’t know how to proceed or where to start
  • You aren’t sure who you are or what you want out of life

That last two points are crucial! You may know you need to make this decision, but you don’t know how or where to start. For example, you know you need to quit your job…but do you update your resume and send it out first? Or do you give two weeks’ notice and then start looking for work? If you have no idea what career path to follow, read How to Find Your Dream Job – No Matter How Old You Are.

Or maybe you know you need to end a relationship or leave your marriage…but you just haven’t a clue how to make it happen. Does he move out, or do you? Who gets the music collection, the kids, the house, the dog, the car? How do you even START sorting through all this?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we tackle the “where to start” issue, we need to talk about “how to decide what to do.”

Look forward at who you want to become

I knew exactly who I wanted to be when I decided to move to Africa. I wanted to be an old lady sitting in a rocking chair, happy that her life was filled with adventure and excitement. That, I believe, is how to make a decision by looking forwards: figure out who you want to become.

Who are you now, and who do you want to be in the future? If you’re currently a writer and you want to become a doctor, then yes! You should quit that lucrative job writing books that become bestsellers, and go get your science degree. Then you can apply to medical school and become the doctor you were created to be.

If you’re in an unhealthy marriage and you want to be happy, free, and respected…then yes, you should end your relationship and start over. And YES, rebuilding your life is hard and expensive and scary…but staying in a bad, unhealthy place is worse. To learn more about this type of decision – and how to look forward – read How to Decide When to Leave a Relationship.

Who do you want to become? That’s how to make a decision: by looking forwards at your future self. Start creating her today, or you’ll drift towards old age and sadness.

Look backward at your past decisions

What was the last Big Important Decision you made? Stop, take a moment to actually think. Take your time. I’ll wait. You might even get a pen and paper and write about your last decision or two – or feel free to share in the comments section below.

Part of learning how to make good decisions is reflecting on how you made choices in the past. Did you drift into that job or relationship, or did you actually choose to be there? Did you have an idea of who you wanted to become, or did you just find yourself in that place?

How to Make a Difficult Decision

How to Make a Difficult Decision

Don’t drift, and don’t let the thought of a Big Important Decision scare you. Remember who you were when you made decisions in the past. Think about how and why you made your choices. This is good for you, it’ll help you know and understand yourself. Now is your chance to make decisions that are based on who you want to become.

It’s easier to decide what to do with your life when you know who you are and where you’re going. Make choices that align with who you are to be.

The most difficult decision I ever made was rehoming a dog we adopted. It was awful – and I didn’t use the “looking forwards” decision making strategy. If I had, I would have made a completely different decision. I share that heartwrenching experience in How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away.

What to Do Next

Listen to the still small voice telling you who you were created to be. Take a deep breath, and look upwards. God created you for a specific reason and purpose. He knows your name; you are wonderfully and beautifully made. God loves you, and He wants you to Blossom. Who are you, and who do you want to become?

Tell me how you will make a decision by looking forwards. I’d love to know who you want to be, where you want to go, and how you want to live your life! How does your vision of yourself affect the decision you have to make? Are you looking forwards in fear? If so, you’re not trusting God. There is no room for fear or anxiety if you’re a woman of faith.

Who are you, and how does your self-image affect the decisions you make?

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your past decision making experiences. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” – Erol Ozan.


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5 thoughts on “How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life”

  1. 6 years ago i chose to adopt a little boy. I had always wanted to adopt. I had seen and held and fed orphans in China when I was young. I adopted when it was clear no more regular born children were going to come. It was a good time in my life. There was extra money, plenty of room in the house. It felt right. I had special professional skills that the child needed. My dreams are a bit like Laurie’s I suppose. I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. To touch people to reach their hearts in some small way. To feel i lived fully and used my gifts.

    At a later point I chose to leave my husband. He had spiralled deeper and deeper into his porn addiction. He no longer wanted to spend time with me or to have meanful conversations. It became very clear that change was not going to be in the cards for him. I was so tired of being compared to others. I could feel it. No one has to tell you.

    I called an old friend who was a therapist. I felt my beautiful little life was spinning away from me. And it was. She found a local counselor for me who was certified in sexual addiction. I asked my husband to move out. He wouldn’t have, but his therapist was there when I asked. I planned it that way.

    After seeing this therapist for about 2 months she shared that she was worried about my safety. My husband had never yelled, never threatened me, but she noticed that he had complete control of the $$, locked guns and a strong, always present, under current of anger. Occasionally he would slip, he was very smart and crafty. But occasionally he would slip and something really mean to me. About every 6 months or so. She connected the dots, where I really had not been able to see the full scope of what I was up against. She told me to file a report the next day at the abused women’s center in case I turned up dead.

    I got some stronger anti-depressants for myself from my Dr, gathered the important docs I would need, an overnight bag, my children and called my family to say I am coming home today. I am leaving my husband.

    That was almost 4 years ago. I knew leaving was the right choice. The only path to health and safety and healing.

    I am still not healed. I still often grieve my many, many losses. I loved my husband very much. But now I am free. And I am safe. And I am regaining my health.

    So 1) ask for help
    2) get counsel from others
    3) write, think
    4) listen to your heart
    5) make a plan
    and then chose and act. Be very brave.

    He has brought the pieces of my torn life together. Little by little, day by day, year by year. I am still rebuilding.

    I have met the right people that I have needed at that time at every turn. Sometimes not the people that I would have thought to choose, and often much later than I wanted them to come. But He has made ways where there were no ways. I will live again. I will impact people again. I will use my gifts again. But it takes time. Be patient and wait and watch. It’s terribly hard to do. But the help you will need will come to you. It will.

    1. Dear E,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and your wisdom! You’ve made such difficult decisions in your life. It must have been so hard, especially when it comes to love and marriage. It’s hard to know when to move on and when to stay.

      I’m so glad you’re free, safe, and recovering. You’ve come such a long way, and you’re making a difference in other people’s lives! You’ve touched my heart, and I am grateful for you.

      Thanks again for your encouragement and wisdom. I’m glad you shared – and I hope you joined my She Blossoms newsletter. It’s the best way to stay in touch 🙂 Here’s the link, in case you haven’t signed up yet: http://eepurl.com/ca2mJr
      Withe the love of Jesus,

  2. These are great tips on how to make a difficult decision in your life, and I look forward to reading more…I am so lost and broken in all my thoughts, but your article helps.