Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to make hard choices

Hard choices. That is what I am struggling with at the moment. It seems the hard choices continue to present themselves, and I spend agonizing hours going back and forth about which option is best or will end up better. Sometimes I just wish I could go into the future and see what would happen to my life based on each individual choice.

A friend recently sent me this video with a talk about hard choices. When he sent it, I thought to myself "oh ok cool. I may listen to that one day." But it is so amazing how the right people just come into your life when you need them. About 3 hours later, I was presented with another hard choice to make. I am so glad I watched it, because even though my friend could not have known the new situation would present itself, he knew that I was struggling with others in my life and I needed to listen to this to once and for all learn how to make a choice.

Your hard choice is hard because in each choice, one is not better than the other, they both have faucets of them that are good and bad. Which is WHY it is hard. For example, in September I struggled with the choice of staying a poor opera singer, or taking a corporate job that would provide a paycheck each week and health insurance. Singing is my passion and my art, but it isn't stable and doesn't pay well. But the corporate job paid a modest income and provided stability, but the work would not be fulfilling. No one answer is BETTER than the other when compared in this way.

Sometimes you will want to take the safest option. When comparing the two side by side, I tended toward the safer option. The paycheck, the steady work, the health insurance. Fear of struggling as a singer for the rest of my life took over.

So how to make this choice? I have always succeeded best when I have clear steps to take to achieve something. Based on this talk I have made of steps to take in order to make these hard choices.

1. Accept. Accept the situation in front of you and learn that this is a great opportunity to learn about yourself, your values and what you really want in life.

2. Reflect. Look at the hard choices, reflect and define what they are. Write down the pros and cons of each, so that they are clear.

3. Define. Now forget the choices for a second. Define WHO you are and what YOUR individual values are. What things make you happy? What does your typical ideal day look like? What things are important to you?

4. Compare. Now take your list from step 3 and step 2 and compare them. Do the pros from each decision match up with the values you've just defined as important? What choice would best represent YOU and what you want from life.

5. Set a date. Take time to do these exercises but not too long. Set a specific date in which you will make your decision. To linger too long is agonizing.

6. Take the plunge. Now you know your answer, so commit and move forward without regret.

In the end I realized the corporate job was not me, I craved the 5 minutes on stage no matter what the cost. I wanted that job because my alternate route was FEAR of the unknown. Fear almost allowed me to take the least risky option.

But in learning to be in tune with, and understand myself has created an unstoppable power in me, and made making hard choices, a bit easier. There is no right answer, and you have to trust that you made the right one for you and not out of fear.

So, reflect and know who you are. Know what you stand for. Make your choice and then become the best version of that choice. Own it and live it.

-Jenny Beauregard

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