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If you’re at a crossroads in your life, you might be feeling very torn about what to do.
It can be really difficult to deal with split paths, and you might feel somewhat lost about which direction to choose.
There are some simple steps you can take to alleviate the stress of making this decision.
This guide provides some prompts to help you look inward, so you can decide which turning to take at this crossroads in life.
What should you take into account?
When you’re making a big life decision, it can feel like there are so many things to take into account.
Some of these will be valid, and some will just distract you from your actual feelings and opinions.
For example, some friends’ opinions are worth considering, and others are better ignored – and we don’t mean that in a harsh way!
Try not to focus too much on the opinion of the friend you don’t actually see that much, or the one who just went through a bad break-up and will tell you to never, ever more in with your partner. They will not have helpful opinions right now, no matter how much you love them!
Do take those people who will be directly affected by your decision into account. For example, if you are at a career crossroads and one path leads to a lower salary (for a while at least), you should consider how this will impact any family or dependents you might have.
Or if it requires a relocation to some far-flung city (or even country), is it reasonable to expect your partner to leave their family/friends/job behind, or to take your kids out of a school they enjoy going to?
You can consider the feelings of those closest to you, but if someone is not directly impacted by your decision, they should not be a large factor.
Perhaps your parents want you to join the family business after you finish school, but you have other plans – they may be upset, but this is your life and you shouldn’t bend to the whims and wishes of others.
You should definitely consider your own health – physical and mental – when deciding which road to take. If one road involves a huge deal of stress and you have a history of burnout or depression, it’s worth thinking carefully before taking it. The same can be said about the well-being of partners and children.
Talk to close friends about your decision.
If you’re really struggling to decide which way to go at this crossroads, it’s worth asking your close friends and family for their opinions. Bear in mind that you might get a mixed response and end up a bit confused, still!
However, the benefit of doing this is that you get to see what other people see in you. Sometimes, our loved ones know us better than we know ourselves, after all.
If you are struggling with something, your judgment and memory may be clouded. You might inaccurately remember things based on your current mindset – while they will still have clarity because they are coming at it objectively.
For example, you might romanticize how much you loved living abroad and tell yourself that you loved it. In reality, your family remembers how miserable you were and how you said you’d never go back.
Your mindset now is clouding how you feel and might make you forget how you actually felt about things at the time.
While rose-tinted spectacles have some uses in life, they can make life-changing decisions harder to make. Get some objective insight by asking those who know you best.
Pay attention to how each option makes you feel.
Put aside everything practical and rational for a moment and focus on how you feel.
Yep, that business plan might not make as much money as you’re making right now, but it makes enough money for you to live comfortably enough and you get excited butterflies in your stomach every time you think about it!
If the alternative is staying in a job that fills your stomach with dread instead, it seems pretty clear to us what you should do.
Equally, if you know that you are truly in love with someone and you’re considering making a life choice about them, take that love into account.
Sometimes it’s our hearts that guide us most honestly in the direction we most wish to go.
Do a practical audit as well.
Okay – we know we said ignore practical stuff for a moment, but we’re back to focusing on it! This just goes to show how important both aspects are when it comes to making a decision at a crossroads.
Consider how your decision will affect the things in your life that really matter – your loved ones, your income and stability, and your lifestyle.
What will you be sacrificing? Rather than just saying to yourself ‘If I take a lower-paid job, I’ll need to cut back a bit,’ say things like ‘I will need to sacrifice traveling, meals out, buying random gifts for my partner, and won’t be able to keep my fancy gym membership.’
You need to get specific when it comes to things like this if you are to make an informed decision. Facing the reality of these choices is what helps us make better ones.
It’s hard, but you need to be as honest with yourself as you can at this stage. The more brutal you can be now, the less of a shock anything will be later down the line.
It’s better to be realistic now and feel prepared for what happens, than be idealistic now and be disappointed and potentially then regret your entire decision.
Take your time.
If you have the luxury of time, make the most of it!
Ideally, your decision won’t require you to rush anything, so you can really slow down and figure out how you feel.
Some snap decisions can end really well, as they might involve going with our gut (we’ll go into this later!), but some can be very reflective of how we felt in that exact moment.
Making a big decision can be negatively impacted after something like an argument with your partner. At that moment, you might think ‘Fine, I was thinking about moving and now I know I may as well!’
Or, after one bad day at work, you might make a rushed decision to quit, before you have another job lined up, or without genuine cause to leave.
If you can, keep track of how you feel about the decision at various points across the next few weeks or months. You might notice that you only really want to make that big change after a bad day at work, or after a really, really great chat with your partner.
Look for the feeling that is most consistent, as that will be the more reliable and realistic mindset to follow.
Assess your mindset.
Similar to above, try to work out where this decision is coming from. What has led you to this crossroads, and what angle are you coming from?
If you’re scared of what is happening in your life now, fear is probably driving your choice to make a change.
Being scared is a very valid reason to make a life change, but it can make us rush into things that we haven’t really thought through.
It can make us see anything as better, simply because of how bad our current situation feels. In this instance, we are more likely to lower our standards and not think clearly about what we really want in the long-term.
If you’re feeling worried about your decision, remember that you have a support system around you. Chat to friends, or even colleagues, about how you are feeling.
Professional help and counseling is also available if you are really struggling with something that is making you feel worried and vulnerable.
Consider the alternatives.
Give yourself a breather for a moment and ask yourself – are there really only these two paths to choose from?
Sometimes, we get so deep in a decision that it feels like the only options are ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
We can’t see anything else because we’re so invested in deciding between these two choices.
Take a moment to look around – there might be more options than you initially thought.
‘Move to Alaska or stay here’ – what about the third option of ‘move to Canada’?!
There might be so many other choices available, but you’ve just closed yourself off to them because you’re so fixated on what you’ve limited yourself to.
Remember that you can change direction again if you need to.
Most decisions aren’t as final as we think they are. Sure, you might not be able to get your job back, but you can still leave your new job if it’s not working out the way you wanted it to.
You can make a choice now and make another choice later down the line. If things don’t work out, you can go through this process again.
Coming from this kind of mindset can really help you with making the first choice. Take some pressure off yourself, and this decision, by remembering that nothing is permanent.
If you choose to move to London instead of Tokyo now, there is nothing stopping you from moving to Tokyo later down the line if it’s still something you’re considering.
Trust your gut and be honest with yourself.
A lot of the time, we know what we really want an outcome or answer to be. When we flip a coin in the air to make a decision for us, we already know what we want it to land on. This is our gut instinct trying to communicate with us.
We might be holding back from uncovering that true feeling, which is why it can be hard to trust your gut, but there are ways to move past that.
Your subconscious might be calling out the answer, but you’re ignoring it because you’re too busy thinking about how disappointed your parents might be in something you do, or because you’re worried you’ll be judged for starting your own company with not much experience.
Whatever it is, your judgment is being clouded by the fear of others. It might also be clouded by past decisions – maybe you are worried that you’ll ‘fail’ again, or that you’ll have your heart broken by someone else this time.
The way to move past this is to really focus on yourself and what your body is trying to tell you. Even reading this, you will have had two options in your mind – and you know which one you want to choose.
Stop letting your secondary thoughts creep in and distract you! Hone in on your honesty and choose the one you know is right for you.
Making big decisions is hard, so if you’re at a crossroads in life, it’s normal to be scared and indecisive right now!
Take your time, surround yourself with loved ones, and trust yourself – you already know what you really want, because you’re thinking about it right now.
Still not sure which way to go? Need to talk through the decision to get clarity on it? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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