In some cases, it’s crystal clear – like when the entrée you were making for a dinner party burns to a crisp and the guests are arriving in 15 minutes. Time to wave a dishtowel at the smoke alarm and grab your take-out menus.
But most things – especially important things – dwell in a shade of grey. Jobs, different kinds of relationships, activities or projects you’ve thrown your heart into … it’s often hard to know when to walk away or when to forge ahead.
I’ve had times when I’ve decided to leave something behind, only to have it come back to me in some manner. In those cases, I look at it as God telling me I still have things to learn from it … even if it still doesn’t work out in the end.
One bit of wisdom I heard about difficult decisions was to think of it like this: Does this situation leave you feeling drained, or can you still derive energy from it? It’s not always cut-and-dried, but something that constantly pulls you down is probably not a great situation for you.
So, as I face a few of my own hard choices, these are the questions and thoughts I’m keeping in mind:
- Is this situation barring me from meeting my goals and having the life that I want, or being the person I want to be? This is for long-range thinking … where do I want to be 5 or 10 years from now? How will this situation affect that?
- Does this decision affect other people, and in what ways? I’ve learned that you should never live your life with the goal of pleasing other people, or of living up to someone else’s agenda. But especially if you’re in a relationship, or if you have children, it’s important to consider a decision’s impact on them. It isn’t selfish to strive for the life of your dreams, but it becomes that way when it happens at someone else’s expense.
- How will I feel tomorrow? This is the “can you look yourself in the eye” question. What decision leaves you feeling proud of yourself?
- If there are certain aspects of this situation that don’t work for me right now, can they be changed – even if it’s just reframing my own attitude? This isn’t to say “put on a happy face” if things are legitimately bad. But especially if an alternative isn’t readily or easily available, sometimes the best you can do is to detach your emotions to the greatest degree possible, and look for happiness in other aspects of your life.
As I walk through these experiences, I also find frequent prayer and meditation are also helpful. If I do my best to turn problems over to my higher power, and genuinely ask for help with a willingness to receive it, I have found it will come to me … sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But it will come.