A Few Thoughts on Big Decisions

We make decisions all day, every day. We make big decisions often too. Sometimes, we have to make big, life-changing decisions – and those are a different beast. Decisions about your health, about switching jobs or careers, about friends and family are what I am talking about. Ones that actually are going to forever change your life. Decisions that if you choose wrong, you may never get a do-over.

I am fortunate that I haven’t had too many of these. A life changing decision done wrong, could have major consequences, you may hurt someone who loves you, you could never get back to what you had. On the other hand, you may choose right and reap the benefits of a new path in life.

I unfortunately had to make one of the hardest personal decisions of my life this week*. I won’t know if I made the right decision for awhile but a decision had to be made. I hope none of you are ever in the position I was in this week.

Over the last few days, I have thought a lot about not only my decision but decisions in general. Although I am not willing to discuss my decision this week because it was my own, I do want to talk about making large decisions.

Here are some of my thoughts on making life-changing decisions

  • You don’t know what you would do, until you are actually there – We do it all the time, I know I do – we project what we would do if we were in someone else’s situation.
    “I don’t have children, but if I did I wouldn’t let them do that.”
    “I know I don’t have her job, but I would totally ask for that promotion.”
    But we are not in that person’s shoes and we don’t have all the information on why they choose a decision. It feels like each time I am faced with a big decision, I seem to do the opposite (or some version of) than what I thought I would do. You just don’t know what you are going to do sometimes, until you are there.
  • You need family – Family is important and if you don’t have a close family you can make a close family with your nearest and dearest friends. ‘Family’ always want what is best for you, family doesn’t care what you look like or if you haven’t showered for days. They bring you food when you didn’t even realize you hadn’t been eating and you can call them and just cry and they will listen. They may project their opinions, it is only because they care but they will support you in whatever your final call is.
  • Saving is so important – When life throws a road block up and a fork in the road, you want to be able to make a decision that is right for you, not the decision that you can afford. If you need to leave your job, that is easier to do when you have a savings to catch you when you fall. If someone gets hurt, or needs something it is much easier to have a net to catch you than to have to make the decision based solely on money.
  • Social Media might not be ready for big decisions – I live and breathe the internet, quite literally, it is what I do for work. I work with businesses on how to use the internet, social media and blogs to market their businesses. I think things like social media and blogging are so interesting and watching how it has changed how we communicate is crazy. I don’t think it is ready for life changing decisions. I think that is related to my first point. Our major decisions will change our lives and I don’t know if you need the input from your friends, people you went to high school with, work friends you met at conferences etc. Someone may have been through something similar but what they did and what you should do may not be the same. You don’t want to put your future in someone else’s hands.
  • The faster your brain goes, the slower times goes – Anyone who has gone through a big breakup** or been near to someone who passed knows this. When you think so fast about all the ‘what ifs’ and what you would do differently, time goes by so slowly. What feels like hours has been twenty minutes. You can also multiply that if you are waiting for calls for news. Waiting for an update or a call can be the worst wait there is. You don’t even know if what you hear will be good news or bad news and each minute feels like an eternity.
  • Writing helps you process your thoughts – As I am writing this sentence, I am still not sure if I am going to post this but it feels good to write it. I was never into journaling, but the times I tried were times I felt down about something. Just the act of getting some emotion out of you and onto a piece of paper (or a computer screen) is empowering.
  • Once you have made that decisions you should own it – You might have to explain it for the rest of your life so once you are there and you have made a decision you better back it.

So those are a few thoughts on making life changing decisions. They are usually never easy and often there isn’t a right or wrong, just what you choose. The worst thing you can do is not make a choice so you need to make one, own it and live on with it. Hope (if I post this) it helps someone, somewhere process something.

* No, I am not pregnant, I really wish everyone would stop asking me that. I think that is very personal and it is shocking how many people feel they have the right to ask if you are pregnant. It is ok to be married and not get pregnant right away. That is a whole other blog post though right?

** Please note I am not going through a big breakup. Adam and I are healthy and happy. I love him very much. I love being married to him and I couldn’t get through any of my big decisions without him.

23 Replies to “A Few Thoughts on Big Decisions”

  1. You’re right, big decisions are super tough. But, like you said, once you make a decision you should own it; usually there is something very peaceful in making the choice instead of being caught in limbo. As a friend or family member who is offering support to someone facing a tough decision, sometimes people feel the need to offer advice or give opinions, but all the person at the other end just needs to know “I’m here, I care.”

    1. Thanks Jenika and thanks for being there and caring.
      I wish all decisions we easy, but they aren’t. We just have to feel what we did was right for us.

    1. Thanks Ross and glad you made it here. The personal ones are the hardest to put out there for the internet world to see but so far, no real regrets.

  2. Big decisions are always so difficult and as always, you put it into words so well. They are your own and even with all of the support in the world, you are the only one who can choose. I love you!

  3. Very well-written, sage advice, Amanda. Thank you.

    The most difficult of life’s decisions are the ones that are in the moral gray area, or where all choices are at the extremes of that spectrum.

    I’m sure you chose with you eyes wide open and much consideration, and hope you are well.

    1. You are so right on the moral grey area decisions. There really isn’t a right or wrong, there is just what you choose (that sounds like a fortune cookie).

      Thank you for your kind words and for passing the post along.

  4. Life is what happens between the big decisions. The saying is “the only thing that is constant is change.” but I think it should be “the only two things that are constant are change and big decisions.” Having recently made one of those big decisions to move back home to Texas (the key reason for that decision being your point #2) I know that there is rarely a “right” decision – only a “right for me right now” decision.

    That’s what’s so cool about life. No matter what decisions you make (or better, yet – the decisions that seem to be made for you) there’s always a lesson and/or silver lining. Keeping the perspective and the willingness to see and learn is my goal.

    I hear you about the social media and big decisions. For me it’s not so much I feel sharing would put the decisions into the hands of others but I just am not comfortable sharing that unsettled part of myself. At least not yet – as is evidenced by the lack of posts on my personal blog.

    Nice post.


    PS – Sorry about that email a couple of weeks ago – I really did dream you were having a baby. Seriously. 🙂

    1. Thanks Lynnelle,

      Your decision to move must have been very hard but you know now, you made the perfect choice. After you make that decision you own it! You are a brave and wonderful woman.

      I like what you said about sharing the unsettled part of your life. So true! I will tell you anything you need to know about my work, about the board I am on, or about just about anything. It is those parts that are undecided and have less armor that are hard to share. I am glad I posted this post but boy, it was hard.

      And about the PS – I just decided not to answer and I have heard the ‘I had a weird dream about you’ line many times before 🙂

  5. Well said and beautifully written.
    Recently I have tried to adopt a policy that goes a little something like this: make-up-your-mind-then-shut-the-door.
    When making a decision I have historically had a very hard time not rethinking it over, and over and over….and over again. When the door is left open, even a crack, for changing one’s mind that is when the vacillation becomes excruciating; at that point deciding between a glass wine and a martini can feel like a stressful and monumental decision. Prioritization helps. Family and friends are crucial.
    As always, you have navigated the waters of a frightening experience like a champ. With grace. And helped others with your insightful words. So, thanks Amanda. And hugs to the whole O’Brien team!

    1. I like the make up your mind and shut the door policy.
      Did you know Adam is STILL looking at houses, wondering if we made the right decision haha
      Thanks for all of your support and kind words.

  6. Thinking of you and hoping you find peace with your decision. I’m here if you need me or want to go for a slow run for old times’ sake. 😉

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