How to Make Tough Decisions

It has been an interesting year for me to say the least. I left a job last June that I honestly thought I would be there another 10 maybe 20 years. I started teaching Pilates full-time and went back to being a beginner in many aspects of my life and started studying to become a personal trainer.

I learned a lot about myself and I am not going to lie, it was hard. I went from having a secure job with a healthy paycheck and a group of colleagues – to cutting my income by 75% and going back to poor student mode and feeling very alone. Since I was teaching Pilates so much, I had students ask for private lessons, and I felt less confident teaching one on one. So I used my savings to sign up for an online intensive course on becoming a personal trainer. I had gotten my master’s Degree in Public Management so learning the muscles and how the body runs on a molecular level was extremely hard for me, I can make budgets and write essays but understanding science does not come natural to me. Studying made me feel dumb and I was used to feeling like the smartest person in the room. I also swallowed my pride and took a job from my father’s company solely for money. This made me a beginner in another aspect, I had to learn how to do tech support for a world of computers I didn’t understand. I felt like a scared 19-year-old again, back in school, barely making it between pay periods.

I really found myself though. It took time, it took patience – but I finally figured out how I operate. We are all different! I had spent so long thinking I had to fit into a certain type of mold. It’s good we are different. Different isn’t bad. After months of struggle and bad luck something magical happened, I was faced this month with a really difficult decision. I had four job offers in front of me and had to answer the question: What do I want to do with my life?

3 Tips for making BIG Life Decisions

  1. Give yourself emotional space to think through your options. Take a step back and don’t emotionally attach to any one decision. What I mean by this is: view each choice with the same weight and separate your self from it. Give yourself time to process the conclusion of each choice – without emotionally reacting. Gather your feelings and then ask the three most trusted people in your life what they think. Let them give you their opinion and weigh that against your initial response. The best thing we can do when making a decision is to take out your emotional thought and rationalize the choice. It’s also great perspective to hear how your “tribe” views it. (Your Tribe are those people in your life who are your cheerleaders and greatest friends, the people who you know are on your side and want you to succeed).
  2. Meditate on the choices in front of you. Think through all the possible options, even if it’s hard. Process the good and bad things that will happen based on what you do. Also allow yourself to know that unexpected and unknown things will occur with any tough decision. Go for a walk and think about your life, think about the things in your life that will be affected by your decision. If you can go to a local walking trail and breathe in some fresh air, escape your known environment and get in touch with nature. Meditate on your decision. If silence doesn’t work for you, play some music, lay in bed and close your eyes and explore your thoughts. Maybe go for a run or a bike ride. Spend some alone time thinking through your choice. If you’re not the mediating type, make a pro and con list.
  3. Listen to your gut feeling. After you’ve weighed the decisions in front of you rationally and given yourself time to logically think through the available choices, go back to your gut feeling. How did your options make you feel. Yes, make a rational smart choice, but if you felt a negative reaction to a choice, go back to why you felt that way. In the end to make a good decision you have to make the decision based on what you really want, not what you think your supposed to do, not what other people think you should do. What do you actually want? What do you want your future to look like? Make the best decision for you, and make it selfishly, especially if has to do with your future. Your gut feeling is usually right.

Facing four job prospects I had to really think about what exactly I wanted to do with my life.

I had 1,000 questions running through my mind: Should I take a job that uses my masters degree? Should I take a job at a nonprofit again because that’s where my work experience is mostly from? Should I do development because I am good at it? Do I have to do something just because I am good at it? Do I actually enjoy development work? Will everyone from my old job be impressed if I take this job? Should I just take the highest paying job? Should I take the job that pays the highest now or the job that has potential for growth? Should I take this job because it sounds the most respectable?

My best friend asked me: What does it matter what anyone else thinks? What makes you happy? She told me to think about why I cared about who I was impressing and who I was trying to impress. And she asked me if any of that mattered. She was right.

In the end: after a run, after talking to my tribe, after making a pro con list, after thinking about it for a full 2 days… I decided to take the job as a full time personal trainer at a well established local gym. I didn’t take the development director job with the fancy title, I didn’t take the job at a nonprofit everyone has heard the name of, I didn’t take the job that pays well right now. I went with what makes me happy. Fitness makes me happy. Inspiring others to care for their physical bodies, showing people how to get stronger and gain strength and confidence – that’s what makes me happy. This is my life, who cares if anyone is impressed by me.

You shouldn’t spend your life living to work, work so you can live. Live for each day. Follow those dreams people!

Xo- Thea

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