How can you trust your gut when it's time to choose?
Jan 05, 2021
Every time I’ve ever done the wrong thing, I knew in my gut that it wasn’t the right choice for me, but I did it anyway.
I’ve stayed when I knew I should leave.
I’ve said yes when my gut told me to say no.
I’ve convinced myself too often that action was better than reflection, that speed was better than progress, and mostly, that the immediate thrill of choosing would last. But it didn’t. It never does.
I’ve changed jobs to get more money only to realize that I lost the meaning and satisfaction that my old job gave me. I’ve taken on projects with impossible expectations, and only later understood that I traded months of grueling work for a small amount of recognition before I was expected to do it all again.
If you’re nodding your head reading this, here’s what I’ve learned (the hard way, of course) to do next time.
- Slow down. The more urgency I’ve felt in these moments, the more likely I’ve been to make the wrong choice. Even if the voice in your head is urging you to jump for fear of losing the opportunity, this is usually not reality. Very few opportunities have an expiration date measured in hours, and if they do, you should be even more careful.
- Go deep. Acknowledge what your mind is saying, but pay attention to what your heart is saying too. A pro/con list can be valuable, but it’s only a surface level tool. Go out a year into the future and look back. From that perspective did the choice move you forward, or did it just appeal to your ego? Was it worth it? It’s easy to get excited about the immediate thrill of something new, but the best choices are those that move you toward the life you really want.
- Be courageous. Saying yes to an opportunity can be frightening, but saying no requires real courage. Every time you say no, you make space to focus on what matters most in your life. You also define what you will accept and the clear boundaries of what you won’t. But remember, even when your overall choice is no, you should still look for other ways of contributing that will support your team.
I don’t always remember to do these things, and even when I do, I don’t do them perfectly. But most of the time when I use these three steps, here’s what I’ve experienced:
- I’ve made better choices and fewer mistakes
- I’ve taken more steps forward and fewer back
- I’ve had happier days and more peaceful nights