I’ve always had a hard time making decisions (you should hear me order anything at a restaurant). When I really think about it, a big part of the difficulty is the fear of making the wrong decision. It’s the palpable yearning for perfection.
Plus, big decisions can seem so overwhelming. It’s hard to wrap your mind around questions like, What will I do with my life? Should I quit grad school? Should I move to another city? Should I buy a home? Should I buy that home?
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Just yesterday Austin Kleon, one of my favorite bloggers, posted a powerful question that he asks himself when figuring out what to do next:
“What do you want your days to look like?”
As he writes in his post:
…In fact, I believe that most questions about what to do with one’s life can be replaced by this question.
What career should I choose? Should I go back to school? Where should I live? Should I get married? Should I have kids? Should I get a dog? Should I take up the piano?
“What do you want your days to look like?” forces you to imagine the day in, day out realities that making such choices will present you with.
Part of taking compassionate care of ourselves is making decisions — big and small — that serve us; decisions that support our needs, wants and wishes; decisions based on our priorities and values.
Austin’s question grounds us in a very important fact: Our days make up our lives.
Years ago, I realized that I didn’t want my days to be spent fighting my body, counting calories, and eating bland, fat-free foods. I didn’t want to pore over women’s magazines, and feel like, once again, I was somehow inadequate.
I realized that I didn’t want to be shackled to a scale, my moods at the mercy of whatever number appeared.
I realized that it wasn’t worth it for me to be miserable most days so I could graduate with a Ph.D. It’s an incredible accomplishment, and I yearned for the honor (and status) of having a doctorate. But the path and process didn’t feel exciting or energizing. Instead, I felt depleted and lost.
The next time you’re making a big, overwhelming decision, consider refocusing on the day to day. What will your days look like?
Here are additional questions you might consider: How do you want to feel every day? Will this decision help you feel this way? Will it nourish you? Is it respectful of your needs?
Making decisions isn’t easy, but it helps to remind ourselves that, at the end of the day, it’s mostly about a given day.