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Feeling Indecisive? How to Make a Decision and Feel Great About It

how to make decisions

I quit my job…again.

(Well, sort of. Let me explain.)

Three weeks ago I resigned from my current job.

That day, before resigning, I walked around the office feeling just right, nervous, anxious. This would be the fifth resignation in my 10-year career.

“You always find something wrong with every job you have,” said my mom, dad, sister, friend.

Hearing this was tough. Is there something wrong with me?

Seriously, is it me?

Despite this fear echoing in my brain, I felt different this time.

This time I didn’t have another job lined up.

This time I wasn’t feeling frustrated.

I had spent 2+ years preparing for this decision, planning carefully with my family and discussing it countless times with coaches, friends, mentors and advisors.

How do we know we’re making the right decision especially when there’s no guarantee things will go as planned?

Here are three ways to assess your situation so you can make a decision and feel great about it.

How Do You Feel…Tomorrow and 10 Years From Now?

A few years ago, I was reading an article about a woman contemplating divorce. She was stuck in making a decision so she asked herself: “How will I feel one year from now if I don’t divorce my husband? How about 5 years from now? How about 10?”

The same questions can be applied to any big, life-changing decision.

One year is a relatively short time, especially if you’re making a career switch or leaving a partner you love. It’s likely that all that you aspire to accomplish will not happen in one year.

For example, if you’re changing careers, you may have to take a step back before you take a few steps forward. Or, if you’re leaving a long-time partner, you may feel heartbreak for quite some time.

One year is part of the transition phase, so within that time, you may feel like crap.

But, how will you feel in five years? Five years is a long-enough period where massive changes can happen.

For example, if you’re contemplating entrepreneurship, in five years you can build a thriving business. Or if you’re making a career switch, five years can mean multiple promotions. The transition period has passed.

Now, the 10 years. What does your life look like after you’ve made this decision? The transition phase is long gone. What do you feel? Relief? Excitement?

Assessing decisions within these three time frames gives us perspective on where we want to be in the long-term versus the immediate future. The result? The pain of the immediate future – the fear of uncertainty, the struggle – is more bearable.

Why the Fear?

Often times we picture the change we need to make, and we’re overcome with fear. That initial shock and uncomfortable feeling can cause us to freeze and say, No thanks. I’ll stay right here”

Before you run, hide or stay put, take stock of how you feel right now. Does the thought of making this big decision turn your stomach upside down?

If it does, ok. But why? What’s the fear about? Why are you feeling terrified?

As I sat at my desk at 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and even as I walked into my boss’ office that day, I felt the fear. When I’m feeling terrified, it’s usually because of two reasons:

  1. I’m not fully prepared for the conversation. This immediately stumps my confidence, so the terror of messing up kicks in.
  2. I have no idea what the hell is going to happen after I go through with my decision. I have some idea of what may happen, but who really knows if it will.

Dissect the fear. What is it about? 

I was feeling nervous. After all, this is a good job, a safe job, and a job where I’m learning. What if I screw this up? Maybe this is the wrong decision?

However, for the past year and more, I’d prepared mentally, emotionally and financially to help sustain me through this change. I had also prepared for the conversation. I was ready. The prep was in place. 

I knew then I was struggling with uncertainty. So how would I feel if I just didn’t go through with the resignation?

Dissecting the fear brings awareness and understanding, and it’s only then that we can take action with confidence. – Tweet It!

If I changed my mind and backed away from the conversation, the fear would subside. My stomach would stop turning. I could breathe easy. And, no one would see my bright red face and hear my awkward shaky voice.

But the truth is, I’d actually feel a whole lot worse. Staying in the traditional 9 to 5 because it’s safe, easier, and comfortable would have meant denying myself something that felt so right. And that felt like crap.

You know you have to go for it when the alternative feels a whole lot worse.

Is It Ego or Is It Love?

I’m 23 years old making $30K/year, working 12+ hour days. I missed an entire summer because of busy season. I was paying my dues and working hard.

I was also frustrated.

So I left. I found another place that paid me more money for regular hours.

Sweet. Life is good. At least until a new problem comes along…

I’m sad to say this is how I often assessed my situations in the past. I had great managers, learned a ton, and built an incredible network, but I didn’t know how to dig deeper.

I’d get stuck, and frustrated at the pay, the lack of challenges, the office politics or whatever my issue was (sometimes rightfully so, but not always), so I’d make an exit plan.

But, my exit plan was usually ego-driven. I wanted to get out, find something better, fix the short-term.

I hadn’t done the deeper work. I hadn’t built up my self awareness, identified what was driving me, and identified my mission. So, eventually I’d end up right where I was a year or two ago.

This time was different. Sure, I could always use a higher salary, a better title, and more responsibility. (I thrive on a challenge, and I’m happy to be rewarded for my work.) But all of those factors were and are secondary.

This time I was following my gut, something positive. In a way, following through with the decision to resign was a way for me to step into myself, some sort of light.

To be honest, it’s difficult to put into words.

I just know I wasn’t feeling that “I win. I’m out of here!” feeling. (Have you ever felt that?) All of that seemed so petty. What I wasn’t getting or whatever wasn’t working lost center stage because I made a decision to pursue something so much bigger than myself: my mission.

So How Did I “Sort Of” Quit?

I didn’t want to leave my full-time job right away. Although my husband and I have put a plan in place for me to make the transition, my ideal scenario was to work part-time so I could continue to support my family while my business takes off. (I have a little toddler so that definitely changes things.)

As a result, I’d been negotiating remote and part-time work options for three months. But, it just wasn’t happening as quickly as I needed it to. I found out I’d likely have to wait months for the part-time option to go through. 

So I resigned that day with honesty and gratitude, expressing my concerns, plans, and appreciation for considering my ask.

I felt liberated because I was no longer putting my life on hold… Waiting, waiting, waiting for all my ducks to line up all pretty, straight and perfect.

As a counter, my boss offered me a part time position to be finalized in two weeks. I accepted. 

Making these big, life-changing decisions are so personal. Every situation is unique. By asking yourself the right questions, you can assess your situation and know when it’s time to let go and move on. For me, this has included a lot of planning, negotiating, and risk-taking. 

Are you currently trying to work out an overwhelming decision? Share your fears and roadblocks in the comments or leave a question below.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

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