Last night I wrapped up one of my Find Your Passion Work small groups and tonight I’ll finish up with the Wednesday night gals. I love leading these groups for so many reasons – namely the women I get close with over the 6 weeks – but there is one question that always comes up that I dread.
How do I choose?
How do I choose which of my many passions to pursue? How do I choose which masters program will be the best? How do I choose which of my business ideas to start?
There is so much behind this simple question. I dread it because as much as I try to be loving, supportive, and totally on my client’s side — this questions requires me to call “bullshit” time after time.
It’s not a matter of being overwhelmed or lacking the information you need to weigh your options. You’re not stuck or confused or unclear on how to move forward.
Fear is stopping you from making a choice.
We are all afraid of choosing because we don’t want to make a mistake. We don’t want to regret our choice. We don’t want to look back 10 years from now, lamenting the fact that we had everything in front of us and we made the wrong decision.
So we avoid making the choice. We complain, and contemplate, and distract ourselves from the need to choose.
If you let fear paralyze you, you will never move forward. If avoiding making a choice becomes a pattern, you’ll spend your time living in regret’s shadow, never really engaging in a deliberate life.
When the women in my group ask me “how?” I tell them it doesn’t matter how you choose – it is much more important that they simply make the choice. Together we’ve worked ridiculously hard on making sure all their possible choices reflect their strengths and values. They’ve spend careful time crafting options that are in alignment with their vision of life on their terms, not a remnant of someone else’s expectations for them.
I know that the options in front of them are all amazing choices, which does make it hard to choose one. I get that!
I tell them, “Flip a coin, go with your gut, make a pro and con list, pick the thing that makes your stomach tingle and your palms sweat, go for the one that seems sweetly easy to you, select the one that is most convenient, or choose the one that has the biggest potential for upside.”
My advice can be summed up rather succinctly.
And continue by doing the work.
You simply can’t predict in the moment if you’re making the “right” choice.
I know I don’t want to be too afraid of being wrong that I miss the chance of being right.
There is family lore on my father’s side that my grandfather had the choice to invest in two very small burger joints back in the day. They both seemed like equally risky investments at his moment of choice, but he saw the potential in the market for this specific kind of restaurant.
He considered, calculated, and he made his careful choice.
The outcome? He invested a good chunk of his life’s savings in Happy Burger.
You’ve never heard of Happy Burger? Me either.
Unfortunately for all of us, by making the choice to invest in Happy Burger, my grandfather declined an offer to invest in the very, very early days of McDonalds.
I have no idea how much of this story is true… But it illustrates my point perfectly.
You don’t know what is going to happen in the future. You don’t have a crystal ball. You will never have all the information.
You have to make the choice anyway.
Sometimes your choice will turn you in a billionaire.
Sometimes your choice will not.
While I’m deliciously solid on my career choices at this moment in my life, there is a big decision that has been on my mind for months.
Where should we move?
The Big Man and I will be leaving San Diego at some point this next year. As most of you know, I never wanted to move here to begin with. I was happy to support my husband by relocating here for a bit, but it wasn’t a place I imagined myself living long-term. Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, I have fallen in love with the ocean and the weather, and made some truly lovely new friends, but our time is coming to a close.
We have big to make about our future and our family.
Do we stay in San Diego? Do we move to San Luis Obispo? To Boulder? To Bend? Back to Seattle? Do we move home to my small hometown in Montana? Try living in the East Coast? Consider living full time in our cabin?
We can work from anywhere, so anywhere is honestly an option.
I think we have it narrowed down to San Luis Obispo or Boulder, which are both amazing options for what we are looking for in our new home.
What are we looking for? Small and outdoorsy, with a foodie/wine scene, a bunch of people who work for themselves, gorgeous weather, close to a big city, family friendly and in the West.
We’ve been debating between the two for months, thinking we’ve made up our mind and then questioning our decision with every new article we read about start-ups in Boulder or crush in San Luis Obispo.
I keep telling myself neither is the wrong decision. We’ll make our choice the right one for us. I won’t have any regrets, because we can always admit a wrong match, pack up and try again. Any decision is better than no decision.
The time has come.
We simply need to choose.
I’m seriously considering tossing a coin, so that we can get on with our lives!
image via Mighty Girl, courtesy of Oprah Magazine July 2012