If there are two things that a lot of us don't respect enough, it's the power of our words and the power of our choices. When it comes to the second thing, I once read that we make over 220 decisions, every day, just on food alone. Shoot, some sources say that we make as many as 35,000 conscious decisions on a daily basis too. And while choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream or whether to watch something on Netflix or Hulu may not be all that big of a deal, there are instances when we need to make a big decision — when it's time to make up our mind for the purpose of cultivating a long-term resolve that will impact our life in a pretty significant way.
If that's the kind of head space that you're currently in, before you make a final call, take a moment to at least give this a once over. Decisions can alter outcomes. That's why it's extremely important to do all that you can to make the wisest ones.
Something that I think is kinda crazy is we're oftentimes wired to make a major decision when we're either stressed out or overly emotional. Usually, it's because we feel a little out of control and so we think making some sort of choice will give us our control back when, more times than not, all it does is create (more) chaos…which leads to making even more decisions in order to fix our "triggered mess". That's why it's so important to de-stress before doing anything.
Here's the thing about this particular point, though. Some of us internalize stress so much that we don't even know when we're at our wit's end. If you're not sleeping soundly; if your moods are all over the place; if you're constantly overthinking; if your energy levels are low; if you struggle with being productive; if your immune system is weak; if your libido is shot; if you're easily triggered; if you grind your teeth a lot and/or you experience headaches (or body aches) often, this means that you need to be intentional about calming yourself down.
And just how do you do that? Get on a sleep schedule. Lay off of sugar and caffeine. Do some journaling. Exercise. Make a daily to-do list (that only has 5-7 things on it). Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Have more sex. Deactivate your (main) triggers. Drink some herbal tea and give your feet a lavender oil massage. And finally, purpose in your mind to not do ANYTHING until you've done at least three of these things and gotten at least three consecutive nights of six hours of sleep or more. It will make you more confident about your choices if you do.
DON’T Follow Your Heart
Some of y'all are gonna be caught off guard with this point; however, those who read my content on this site fairly regularly know that they have heard this tip before. Listen, I don't know who came up with the "follow your heart" mantra but it irritates the mess outta me, every time I hear it. For one thing, the Good Book advises the total opposite because Jeremiah 17:9-19(NKJV) says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."
First, the Bible says that the heart is deceitful and wicked. Then it says that God tests the mind. I totally get why the Word sees things this way too because a definition of the heart is "the center of emotions" and if you make it your motto to follow your emotions? You are in for a very roller coaster kind of life. No thank you.
When you need to make a major decision, it is absolutely wiser of you to focus on your mind — the part of you that reasons, looks at things logically and applies some level of discernment. Many people have done some of the most reckless and selfish things while "following their heart". You significantly reduce this risk of becoming this kind of statistic by thinking things through instead.
Get an “Inside Out” Perspective
A wise person once said, "People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole-shaped." I really like that quote because it basically means that if you only look at things from your perspective, it could really limit you and your outcomes. This is why it's so important, engaged folks, to get into premarital counseling before jumping the broom because a reputable therapist/counselor/coach can pick up on some potential red flags or issues that you being "all in love" may miss.
Anyway, while I don't think it's important or necessary to get a billion people to cosign on something that you are considering doing (or not doing), I do recommend running it by 2-3 people who you absolutely trust. 2-3 people whose own lives have some sense of order and productivity. 2-3 people who have a proven track record of wanting the absolute best for you. Present to them what's going on and what you're considering doing about it. Then ask them for their honest opinion. Remember that it is indeed an opinion (and that you are grown, so you can still ultimately do what you want) yet try and take it all in as objectively as you can. I have spared myself a lot of potential ridiculousness by giving certain friends the floor. Something that "outside in" perspectives can do is help to paint a much bigger picture.
There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 — NKJV) The interesting thing about the word "anxious" is it doesn't just mean "mental distress"; it also means "eager". Just like it can be counterproductive to make major decisions when you're mentally distressed, it can be crazy to make choices while you're overly eager as well. And so, those verses in the Bible remind us that prayer can help us to move past anxiousness and into a space of greater understanding; especially on a spiritual level.
And what if you're not a holy book kind of person (because the Torah and Quran are also big on prayer)? Meditation is a good move too. It helps to control anxiety. It helps you to focus. It can make you more self-aware. It can help to make you less selfish and more empathetic. It can also make it easier for you to sleep, so that your brain is clearer. There are plenty of studies out in cyberspace that support the benefits of prayer and/or meditation. Certainly enough for you to definitely apply these steps before deciding to do anything serious.
Assess the Pros and Cons
As more and more people are realizing that homeownership is basically renting from a bank while renters are renting from a landlord, they are starting to see that the so-called American Dream needs more thinking things through. This is where a pros and cons list can come in really handy. For instance, some pros of owning a house are you can build equity and treat the house as you please. Some cons include being responsible for property tax and repairs and the fact that you could end up paying more in interest than the house is actually worth overall. Or say that you're thinking about starting your own company. Some pros include living out your own dream and being your own boss. Some cons include probably working more hours, generating unpredictable income (at least for a season) and having the burden of every choice fall totally on you.
While there is nothing new about writing a pros and cons list, it's kind of amazing, just how many people don't do it. It really is a great life hack, though, because if you're serious about making one, it requires a lot of pondering, seeing things from all angles and even doing some research (which is why you should have no less than 10 things on each side; that way, you up your chances of really thinking things through). A pros and cons list taps into your practical side and when it comes to making a life-altering decision, that is always a good thing.
Look a Year Ahead
My mother used to say, "God doesn't give us someone for where we are but where we're going and no one can know that but him." That was her way of encouraging people to factor God into their long-term partner choices. Along these same lines, when you are about to make a major decision, you need to try and look into at least the short-term future as much as you possibly can. While it is a little absurd to think that you can predict all of what will happen up the pike, the reason why this is an important step is because, far too often, we tend to make decisions based on nothing more than the here and now without even factoring in the weeks and months ahead.
Say that you're contemplating moving to another city for the first time. If you're very close to your family and you've got a close relative who is old or ill, can you be good with your schedule or finances not being able to let you return if they need you over the next several months? Say that you're considering going back to school. Can you handle the demands of work and your class load? Say that you are thinking about starting a business. Are you confident enough in our country to think that you can financially survive more topsy-turviness that may be up ahead? Say that you're considering getting pregnant yet your partner is up for a promotion. Have you thought about what a new baby and his work demands might look like? I could go on and on with various scenarios yet I think you get the gist. When making big decisions, something that you've also got to take into account is timing — future seasons included. Please make sure that you do.
Let Peace Be Your Guide
You can read articles that I've written on this platform like "Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself" and "An Extremely Underestimated Sign That You're With The Right Person" to know just how BIG of a fan that I am of peace. To be at peace is to be content. To be at peace is to have composure. To be at peace is to be calm. To be at peace is OK with being still. To be at an uber level of peace is to be in a state of one of my favorite words of all time — bliss. And when you're in bliss, you're experiencing blessedness and real joy.
Just like a lot of us can mistake drama for passion or lust for love, it can be really easy to think that instant gratification or only appeasing what you desire (at the expense of what's best for you) is going to bring you peace. However, if the choice that you're about to make doesn't bring along with it a feeling of real calm in your mind, body and soul, simultaneously so, at the very least, pump your brakes for a bit. Peace sends us the message that we're making a decision that isn't just good; it's right. And when something (or someone) is right, it is "in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle; correct" and that's always what's best. And when we're doing what is truly best for us, that's when we can feel good about our choices. No matter how impacting the decision may be.
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