February 12, 2017

How to Get Clear on Tough Choices.

 In the past decade, I have had to make some pretty tough choices.

The kind that kept me up at night and brought me to my knees, and also the kind that made my heart flutter with excitement. The scenarios that came with tough decision-making, yet taught me the most are:

>> Exiting the corporate business world.
>> Publishing a book.
>> Forgiving my ex-husband.
>> Turning down a tremendous business opportunity, more than once.
>> Getting clear on my purpose to become a mother.

I recognize these are not the toughest choices by any means, but they all came with a common thread: Am I making the right decision?

Through radical self-inquiry and hundreds of teaching moments that came from my learning, here are my current top helpful tips to cut through the blocks and make way for more clarity:

1. Drop the question, Am I right? 

Thinking we can perhaps make the wrong decision is fear-based, anxiety-inducing, and hands down a lot of pressure. Because we do not have the ability to predict the future, how can we possibly know which decision is right?

We often already know what is best for us, but become scared that it may not be what society or others feel is right for us. When faced with this, I remember that when I lay my head down to rest at night, it is my head, my body, my life. It is our birthright to stand up for ourselves and to be individuals.

2. Sit with it. Don’t answer right away.

Even when faced with a hard deadline, that deadline exists on the outside. I have learned that my inner instinct does not work on timelines; it speaks loudest when I am willing to get quiet and sit with it. Therefore, my first response to any tough decision is to pause and access patience.

Whether my stillness lasts two hours or two minutes, I do the opposite of decision-making. do nothing at all. I redirect my focus onto the simplest things possible: My breath, a mantra or marveling at something in nature.

3. Get off the internet.

The internet has loads of opinions and floods our headspace with data. I feel more foggy if I spend time searching for help on the internet, including social media. To look for an answer by scrolling through a friend’s newsfeed to gauge his/her happiness level is like me trying to taste an apple by finding a picture of someone eating an apple online. The screen in front of my eyes is not real. The apple on the screen is not in my mouth! The answer is never out there, it is within.

4. By making a choice, you may disappoint others. And that’s okay.

We’re likely faced with a tough choice because we have put ourselves out there.  When we do this in any capacity, we must be okay with the possibility of disappointing others. Not intentionally, but in a sense that we will never be able to please everyone.

Perhaps the biggest block for me has been the realization that somehow by choosing to be true to myself, I need to also be responsible for the reaction of others. Way too much pressure! And, dare I say, nearly impossible. Live from a place of compassion. If we truly abide by this, people will feel it, even if they are disappointed at first.

5. By making a decision now, I still have no idea what will happen tomorrow.

In a moment of clarity, I may feel at peace, but I know that life will still continue to challenge me. Peace is possible as a state of mind, but my decision today does not guarantee it will magically reappear tomorrow.

A teacher once said to me, “Truth is fluid, so we must detach from any outcome.”

Perhaps the real practice is to choose who and how we are in the midst of any tough decision. This can ultimately pave the path for a way of being that becomes easier to access when we stumble, and immediately rebuilds our strength when we get back up.


Author: Ayami Yamamichi

Image: Rori DuBoff/Flickr 

Editor: Deb Jarrett


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