When Making Life Decisions, There is No Google Map

There are often times in life where many different paths are present. It can sometimes feel daunting to know which direction to pursue, especially when an end result may be murky or a moving target. Questions may emerge about career/vocation/academic directions, intimate relationship decisions, and coming out processes. How can a person be sure that they are making the right decision or heading into life affirming directions? How does one know that it is the right time to make a choice that could have broader life implications?These are the very questions that folks often grapple with when faced  with the potential for change. 

What do I do?

How do I know it's right?

Part of a therapeutic process often involves assisting folks in gaining greater clarity about the opportunities, possibilities, and challenges that may emerge when making decisions about potential life directions. Oftentimes, when working with folks, I like to move away from the terminology right decisions to rather making healthy decisions or decisions that move you closer to joy and inspire growth

In choosing specific paths, nothing is ever either/or. When people make decisions there can be a number of results that occur that can feel like an emotional spectrum. If a person chooses one academic major, the person has eliminated pursuing another option. There can be a feeling of loss that accompanies choosing one path in favor of another. When making any life changes, people often move through periods of grief and loss because what was once familiar and ingrained begins to shift. Shifts and changes can sometimes leave people feeling out of balance, fearful, and uncertain. However, often simultaneously, there has the potential to be great gain in change, especially when decisions align with life affirmation and healing. 

On any path, there will be a number of decisions that are continually made. It’s not just one decision! For example, people decide everyday about how to engage with others, how mindful and present to be in everyday life, the role that people play in work, love, and camaraderie, and how to continually move forward in the wake of relational disappointments, life frustrations, and/or trauma. These decisions and everyday choices play out on any path. 

At the Crossroads:

Engage in discernment processes.

  • Take the time and space to really think and feel through the possibilities of change and the specific directions that you are considering. Discernment processes typically include time to place attention on the range of life reactions and feelings that may occur when pursuing different routes. Write down your thoughts. Make pros and cons lists. Identify what are your important values with regard to various domains in your life. Greater clarity may become predominant.

Build a foundation of support.

  • Develop connections and talk to people you trust about varying paths. Let folks reflect back to you their impressions and observations about when they have noticed your joys.

Continue to pursue the areas in your life where you have found joy.

  • Do more of what you love. 

Move beyond “what ifs.”

  • Oftentimes, anxious or fear-based “self-talk” can serve as a barrier to moving toward processes of change. Acknowledge the fears and potential barriers, while also becoming more allowing of life potentials.

Take a measured risk.

  • Sometimes it becomes about taking risks into the unknown to make significant and impactful life change. 

There may not be a Google map for your life path, but there are those milestones along the way that can be indicators that you are headed in growth inducing and healing directions.