You’ve tried the pros and cons list, you’ve slept on it, you’ve talked to family and friends but the big answer you need just isn’t coming.
You can’t decide if you should jump ship for more money, or hold out for a promotion at your current job. Should you relocate your family and your life for a great opportunity? Should you take the leap and start the business you’ve always dreamed of? Should you retire? Should you go for the promotion? Should you go back to work or stay home with the kids?
So much potential change! So many decisions! Of course, you will consider a variety of factors like money, enjoyment, preferences, impact on others etc. There will be considerations that are non-negotiable and other aspects you might be willing to budge on. Perhaps you've thought about what you'd consider to be the "practical" aspects but in your gut or your heart, something isn't sitting right. This is an important decision and it feels like a lot is riding on it.
But if you continue to go around in circles getting more confused than clear, you might end up picking an option that doesn't feel quite right simply to put an end to all of your agonizing.
There's another approach.
Try this—rather than considering what you want to do, think about who you want to be.
Envision how your identity will change as the result of your decision.
Who are you at your core?
Here’s an exercise to try: Grab some paper, and write out the answer to: “Who do I want to be?” Think about yourself three years out (often, one year seems too soon and five years too far away), and describe the ideal version of your future self in as much detail as possible. Then, ask yourself: “Will this opportunity I’m considering or decision I'm making get me closer or further away from that person?” Your answer just may be crystal clear.
If you still aren’t sure, talk your answer to this question through with someone you trust. Talk about who you want to be and describe how each option would get you there (or not). Other people can often uncover messages that we miss, or even pick up revealing cues that we can’t read, like body language, tone of voice, or nervous habits.
This isn’t always an easy question to answer and you might even surprise yourself by what comes out. The important thing is the more you consider this, the closer you will get to the right answer—and to the life that you really want to live.
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