How To Make Important Life Decisions
Trying Something New: Venturing Out Into The Unknown
I have gone out into what was completely unknown to me a few times in my life, mostly by my own choice. Once to New Horizons to “the program”, once to Tennessee from Indiana, and twice to different Hawaiian islands from Tennesee.
Each time it is exciting and exhausting, and the good-byes get harder each time. The reward is making new friends, learning new things, and having adventures individually and as a family. I love the feeling of knowing that my family doesn’t let exciting opportunities pass us by because they are hard or scary.
Get some backstory on recent major life decisions and my past with this post:
Things I’ve learned from the unknown:
- It’s ok to fail, make a mistake, or have something not work out.
- Be afraid but don’t let fear dictate your decisions.
- Money is just money and you can make more. Spend it on what matters and what lasts.
- Have fun. Do fun things.
- Teach your kids that anything that is worth doing is hard and has a cost. Teach them how to deal with hurt and show them how to make wise decisions.
- Don’t let the opinions of people who aren’t in your shoes dictate what you do with your life.
- Bring kindness and value to everyone, everywhere you go.
- Embrace the suck. Let it be bad. Be sad about it. Work through it and be stronger.
- Use experiences and opportunities, positive or negative to learn and grow. Do this by reflecting with your spouse or friends, or in a journal. Explore how it changed you and how you will apply it to your current situation or your next big decision.
Know When To Move On
Is it time to leave a relationship, job, church, school, city, town or state? How do you know when it’s time to go?
- When you have made your most positive impact and can do no more
- Lacking the support you need and have unsuccessfully exhausted all options for improving your situation
- A feeling of closure, peace, and being released
- You have trained a replacement or a successor who is ready to replace you
- You can see an opportunity for personal growth and advancement
Factors To Consider
- Will my situation likely change or improve soon?
- Is my family in support of the change?
- Does it seem like the right thing to do?
- Is it financially wise?
- Have I weighed the possible positives and negatives?
The One Question You Need To Ask Yourself:
I love this Andy Standley question. It challenges me to think deeper into stressful decisions and how to respond best. He talks more in-depth about how to apply life experience to decision-making. He also has a great book about this question and how we can even prevent regrets and poor decisions by asking ourselves a few simple questions. The Best Question Ever By Andy Standley
In light of my past experience, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for ME to do?Andy Standley
Here’s the full episode. He brings this all together at 20:13. Your Move Is also has the full series of videos on this topic called “Ask It” on making wise decisions.
If Not Now, Then When?
“What-If” and “I’ll do it later, yeah, maybe later would better to make a change” can be powerful thoughts and can totally derail you from moving forward. They can be doubt and fear in disguise if there is not a specific and real concern tied to them.
Procrastination because of fear of change or difficulty can make it easy to say, “This isn’t a good time”. Well, there is never going to be a good time, so don’t make excuses for things that will help you grow and improve.
How To Make The Really Tough Decisions
Ask God For Input Early And Often
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.James 1:5 New International Version (NIV)5
Honestly, to say I have agonized over moving my family so many times is an understatement. I have begged God to tell me what the right thing to do is. Like in this post about God closing doors, I have prayed and asked God to direct our path and go before us. Consult God’s Word for guidance. Here are some other suggestions for Bringing God Into Your Big Decisions.
If You’re Married: Decide Together
Be on the same page with your spouse. Make sure, extra sure, that if you are making a big change that is very likely to add strain, stress, and change to your marriage, you are both in agreement. It is not worth moving forward if not. The added stress of not being in agreement can make and exciting change miserable. It can also cause division, resentment or contempt and create distance in your marriage.
DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!!!
As much as possible, gain information and insight into what you could be walking into. Whether it’s a new job, neighborhood, church, or a big purchase, do some digging. Try to find several different perspectives from others who have been there, worked there, lived there or had one before. Evaluate if its a positive perception you get from the information.
Read books like Craig Groschels book Divine Direction or The Roadmap to Divine Direction: Finding God’s Will For Every Situation. This is a great article specifically for women that goes in-depth with scripture references. Godly Decision Making For Women Leaders.
Ask A Trusted friend – Or Two
I have two ladies who are a fair amount of years ahead of me. They, along with their husbands advise me on my decision-making. Supporting the ones that sound healthy, beneficial and responsible, they give me kind, honest, and thoughtful feedback. Have a small inner circle of trusted advisors you can go to about upcoming decisions. We often included our church family and church leadership in decisions and asked for prayer about situations that required a big decision.
Make a List
If you aren’t sure how this change will affect you and you aren’t sure if it’s worth the risk, make a list. List out the pros and cons. Consider everyone involved who the change will affect and how. Consider income change, job duties, emotional effects, benefits, impact on commute, family support available, job availability, churches in a new area.
Compare It to Your Goals
Ask yourself if this upcoming decision is a match for your personal goals and your marriage and family goals. Does it align with your short term and long term goals? If you don’t have specific goals, try to picture how you want your life to look in a few months, then a few years and compare this opportunity to that vision. Do they fit together or seamlessly overlap? If not, you may want to pass.
Here are some other thoughts on Biblical Principles For Decision Making.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version
- Don’t be like me and obsessively overthink every possible consequence and allow fear to cloud your best judgment
- Get wrapped up in emotion and the intensity of one situation and make a decision based on that feeling
- Avoid making a decision that you are financially unprepared to handle. If you have to go into debt and cannot
- Don’t base decisions on the input or influence of peers that don’t meet or exceed your definition of success in life or fail to exceed you in emotional or spiritual maturity and stability. They might be a great friend and person. But probably don’t have your personal success at heart or at least don’t have the experience and discernment to speak wisely to your situation or desired outcome
- Jump into something because of the fear of missing out. Make sure it really is what it seems.
- Feel pressured by other people’s timelines
Saying Good-Bye To Lana’i
I grossly underestimated the real impact of leaving Lana’i on me and my family. When I am going into a new and known situation I usually feel confident, certain and insanely excited. I should have been ecstatic and a small part of me was. God has answered my prayers, restored me to my old company and returning to a house that felt like home. It was all perfect.
Instead, it felt sad, confusing, conflicting and like the death of a life, I had wished for and may never get to have again. Life on Lana’i was like a fairy tale in many ways. Like a little TV show where everything makes sense and all the people greet each other and wave at you as you walk to work in the tropical sun and balmy breezes. I wanted it to be perfect for me. It just wasn’t.
We are getting good at saying good-bye for now, but it was the hardest good-bye yet, especially for my kids. When we got to the point where it was real and the suitcases were packed and the container was loaded, it was deep sadness. I regretted leaving Lana’i before we were ever off of the island.
It is a place of dreams and safety. The kids walked to school and came to work to see me on their way home. I loved that. It’s hard to let go of things that your kids love, even if you can’t make it work for yourself. It is a terrible, sick, scary feeling. I can compare it to grief.
Why Did We Leave?
For us, it came down to what we felt was best long-term for our families’ stability. I can see God blessing it and restoring broken pieces of our lives before we left Tennessee. I love that. It’s comforting in a time of chaos. The price of moving to Lana’i and deciding to come home in a little under a year was so high and so hard.
Because of this, I am determined to make it worth it. I am going to do this by making more of an effort in these areas as we return to normal life in Tennessee.
Here are my areas of focus:
- Develop healthy disciplines and routines for myself, including setting aside specific time for God every day consistently
- Express more positive feedback and have a more grateful attitude for opportunities
- Be more engaged and maximize opportunities to help and support others and my community
- Be less self-focused and be more others-focused.
- Deepen my relationships, be a better friend and put more into others who I love and who love me.
- Pay more attention to how I can pray for my friends and be more committed and consistent praying for them.
- Be a more careful steward of our income and how we use it – live in a way that we have the margin to do fun things, help others, and owe no one anything, ever – I’m going to go back to our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Workbook when our belongings arrive. If you want to do this with me, let me know and we can support each other. This book is a great starting point if you’re totally lost/new to this Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey. Or find a local class here Find A Local Finacial Peace Group. I HIGHLY recommend taking a class if you can make this happen. There a cost for the course and materials.
- Give priority, focus, and time to my marriage, children, family, and my job. In that order. My marriage and children are the most valuable thing I will ever have. They are the “main thing” in my life that needs my attention and my best.
The Main Thing, Is To Keep The Main Thing, The Main Thing.Steven Covey
(Not my Photos)