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
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?
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.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.