“I want to quit. I really want to quit. I’m tired of the way they treat me, they completely disregard all that I’ve done for them, and this is the final straw! Except. What where will I go from here? What if I can’t find a better job that pays as well. What if they don’t have the same flexible hours or other benefits that this job does? I don’t know what to do!”
Sound familiar? How about this?
“I know that I’ve been saying I wanted to buy a house, but it’s a big responsibility! Still, the idea of having a place that’s all my own, with nobody on the other side of a wall waking me up at 3:00 AM is really appealing. And I would really like a yard, and a dog, but I also know that having both of these things takes time and effort. A house is a much better investment than wasting my money away on an apartment though, and I really like the layout and neighborhood of the house I found; it won't stay on the market for long. Still, it’s a BIG commitment. What should I do?”
Both of these examples represent difficult decisions that are founded in a fear of the unknown. It would be easy to decide to leave a bad job situation if we knew what was in store for us elsewhere. It would also be easy to decide to buy a house if we were assured that our financial situation and other aspects of our life would stay the same. Ah, if only we each had our own personal crystal ball…
Of course, when we are anticipating something good in a potential change, there can be a certain excitement with the unknown, where anything can happen. But when stability, financial security, or emotional continuity are at risk, the excitement can easily turn to dread as we look for a sign - any sign - that will point us in ‘the right’ direction.
In the mean time we toil over our options, compare the pros and cons, and definitely walk the tightrope of analysis paralysis. If we plunge off of the tightrope, we become stuck in the mud and are overwhelmed by our choices to the point of stagnation. In some cases, this might feel better than our near obsession with the choices at hand and pulling our hair out over which alternative to pursue.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to get through this dilemma in one piece. Here are a few ideas with which to get started:
Expand your view.
Sometimes when we feel stuck, it could be because there are many choices available from which we must choose one. Other times, it may be that we are in hyper-focus mode, honing in on this one problem that we want to resolve. This one question that we desperately need to answer.
By widening our attention to the bigger world around us, we might loosen the grip that this one thing has on our psyche, which may lead to clarity around a preferred choice. Check out the Powers of 10 video for some visual help with this.
Cut the cords to fear and drama.
Fear can have a strong pull, and one of the ways it attracts us into its net is through drama. Drama, after all, involves some type of conflict, and having to make a choice about the future without knowing the outcome can certainly feel conflicting. Now not all difficult choices have to involve drama, but it is easy for us to create drama out of the difficult choices.
Cutting the cords of fear and drama allows us freedom to see our situation in a more objective light. It also opens the way for new information to filter in that otherwise may have been obscured by the veil of fear.
This is not a simple task, dissolving the drama and associated hooks from our lives, as it requires a conscious decision on our part to step-away from the behaviors and people connected to it. Deciding to no longer partake in conversations that fuel the negativity and/or worry. Staying away from those people who feed your fears, seeking instead those people who can provide you with the kind of solace you need.
Breaking free from the bonds of drama can also be incredibly freeing. It is likely that once we've fully committed to eliminating it from our lives, our fear will quickly subside, and we will feel more comfortable and confident in reaching a decision.
Wait and see.
Sometimes when we feel pressed to make a decision, the best thing to do is to step away and take a wait-and-see approach.
In my experience, many of the things that initially seem to be urgent, are self-contrived. It’s not that we create this urgency on purpose, but how we perceive the importance of the decision leads us to believe that we must take action NOW, when, in fact, this may not actually be the case.
If you are contemplating leaving a job that just got worse because of a recent change, what would be the harm in waiting a little while to see how things pan out?
If it’s a move you’re considering, but you aren’t yet convinced that it is a good idea, would it really make that much difference if you were to defer your decision for a week, a month or even longer?
Preserving our sense of control.
I realize the answer to these questions are probably, “it depends”, but asking the questions certainly won’t hurt anything, and, as I am fond of suggesting, asking these things of ourselves helps to put us in the driver’s seat, rather than remaining in the passenger seat of our change.
And that, my friends, is really what it’s all about. The greater sense of control we feel we have over our situation, the more confident we become in making decisions, and the less stressed we feel out of fears, doubts, and uncertainty.
Tomorrow we’ll take a tour of the fear of loss or letting go, and what to do about it.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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