I know you’re familiar with that awful, nagging discomfort that comes from avoiding making a decision.

Maybe you have a couple of options in front of you, and you have no idea what you’re supposed to choose … so you keep putting off the decision and stay in your current situation by default.

Or maybe you’re pretty sure you do know what to choose, but something is holding you back from going for it.

I’m all too familiar myself with the constant back-and-forth, the mental pros/cons list running in your head, the nagging question in the back of your head all day long — it’s not a fun place to be.

I WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS THE OTHER DAY WITH ONE OF MY CLIENTS

She was being really hard on herself because she kept going back-and-forth about a couple of major decisions in her life.

In particular, she was battling between staying at her job for another few months or outright quitting. Every time we’d get on the phone, she’d say something along the lines of, “I keep thinking that I need to quit my job, but something keeps stopping me from going through with it.”

Some days, she’d be right on the verge of handing in her notice, and on other days she felt like she could stay there another few months, no problem.

This constant indecisiveness was making her feel reactive and totally out of control, which was then causing her to pile on the self-judgment. She kept hating on herself and complaining about how awful it felt to be constantly on the fence.

Finally, I told her, “You know, you actually are making a choice. Today, whether you realized it or not, you chose to not quit your job. So let’s talk about why you made that choice, so you know what to choose tomorrow.”

twitter-birdNot making a choice is STILL a choice.

EVERYTHING YOU DO (OR DON’T DO) IS A CHOICE

When we explored what was keeping her in the status quo, a few things came up (and I’m betting most of you have been here before … or might be here right now):

Any of that feel familiar?

While she felt like she was avoiding making a decision, our coaching session revealed that each day she was making the right decision for right now.

So, I asked her check in with herself every morning and consciously decide whether or not she would go to work that day or quit. The key here is that, once she made her choice for the day, she wasn’t allowed to judge herself for that decision.

AT TIMES, WE’RE ALL GOING TO FACE TOUGH DECISIONS

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that everything you do is a choice. Choosing to stay in a so-so job or an unhealthy relationship is just as much of a choice as leaving. You get to choose, each and every day, whether you’re going to stay or leave … whether you’re going to keep living the status quo or do something differently.

twitter-birdInstead of feeling trapped, decide right now to make every choice a conscious one.

So here’s my challenge to you: Whatever major choice you feel like you’re avoiding right now (Should I go back to grad school? Should I take that new job offer? Should I start my own business? Should I end this relationship?), check in with yourself each morning and consciously decide, “Am I going to go for it today, or stay put? And why?”

{Pssst … it’s OK if the answer to your “why” is simply, “It feels right.”}

I’m not one for making or following hard-and-fast rules, but I am imposing one major rule in this challenge, and it’s the same rule I gave my client:

Once you make your decision for the day, you’re not allowed to judge it. Stand confident in your choice, at least for that one day. If you realize you made the wrong choice … well, then it’s a good thing you’ll be checking back in with yourself again tomorrow!

Here’s why this is a such a powerful daily practice:

So who’s willing to take this challenge with me? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

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  1. Loved this blog post – it touches on so many key points and serves as a powerful reminder that we have the right to choose. I accept the challenge to make a conscious choice each day and will aim to avoid self judgment at all costs!

  2. Thank you for sending me this. The timing was perfect. I identified with everything you wrote and the advice was really helpful. 🙂

  3. This is literally what I’ve been going through every day for the past 9 months: should I quit my job or stay a little longer? I know I am going to leave (eventually) because I’m not getting the professional skills and opportunities I need to further develop, and my boss (she claims us to be in a partnership) never looks out for me. My other concern is having a gap on my resume. I’m worried about what I’d say to a prospective employer about it. I don’t want it to come off like “things got hard, so I quit”. And also– money. I have a good savings cushion, but I still feel guilty about quitting and living off my boyfriend (even though he’s totally fine with it). At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve lost track of myself, my passions– because my energy goes towards negatives thoughts about how I’m wasting my life. I need to make a big change, but I’m trying to be patient and wait for the ‘right’ move. But I keep thinking..maybe if I quit I’ll get the motivation that I need and I’ll finally be…free. Until then, I will try the no-judgement approach. Thanks!

    1. Glad this was a relevant post for you, Katie, and thanks for sharing a bit of your current situation! Sounds like there are a lot of factors to consider before making a decision about your job, which makes a lot of sense. If you keep checking in with yourself each today, I’m willing to bet you’ll be more in-tune with yourself when you finally have an intuitive shift that it’s time to make a change. Thanks for reading!

    2. Hello,

      I am going through the same. I am trying to decide if I want to go back to school for counseling or to be a RN. I know being a RN has a better future and more opportunities for the future, but I do not want to quit my current job and live off my boyfriend (which he is ok with too) ….but I know going into the medical feel will make my future better..major risk here : )

      any suggestions

      1. I meant medical field*
        I took that passion test as well and I came out to be the “side hustler” …man oh man you guys hit everything right on the head!!! I already have a masters but Im thinking about pursuing this RN degree rather than the counseling *decisions decisions*
        Thanks

  4. I got “goose bumps” reading this post. But maybe not for the reason you might think…

    Last night I presented a lecture to my class “Counseling Theories”. It is a graduate course as part of my educational program in Clinical Counseling. You ladies already know that, because I have shared that with you previously when I asked for permission to use quote you in any future writings for both academic and personal reasons.
    Here is what is absolutely amazing (I am easily amazed, but that is another story): In my presentation, I taught about something that MIRRORS EXACTLY the concept you have shared on this post! How “weird” is that? I do not believe in coincidences per say. I do believe that we meet certain people at certain times for very specific reasons. There is a reason for the timing in what I am going to say below (Kristen, I will be emailing you again shortly. If not today, then tomorrow).

    SO, after a rambling introduction, this is what I want say. First, the subject of my lecture was Existentialism and Existential Therapy. Big words, I know. But what you shared is one of THE MAIN PRINCIPLES of the philosophy of Existentialism, which some believe started with the early Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 B.C.E.). There have been many philosophers of Existentialism since then, and two of my favorite are Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980).

    The REASON people put off making a choice (Existentialists also say not choosing is making a choice) IS TO AVOID and/or ESCAPE the position of being RESPONSIBLE for their own life. Part of our shared and common experience as fellow humans is the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE. But by avoiding the choice, we believe (wrongly so by the way, it is called self-deception) that by not taking the chance, by not choosing to act, (or as Kierkegaard would say, take THE LEAP OF FAITH), we can blame others, our past, or present circumstances if life does not bring us the fullness, meaningfulness, and sense of purpose WE ALL DESIRE DEEP DOWN. Now here is the part I hope brings a little inspiration to anyone reading:
    I already took your challenge BEFORE you issued it! Six months ago, I quit a job paying $65,000 a year. I did so for A LOT of reasons (which I will share personally with you in my email later), but in practical terms, I felt the “call” to commit my life to serving others, so I began my pursuit of my second graduate degree in counseling that I have already mentioned. Here is the thing. I am living DAY TO DAY, with no guarantees of anything. I am unemployed. I certainly do not have the disposable income I used to…I can’t eat out when I want (like I used to). BUT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE WHAT I AM DOING. I am living to fulfill MY purpose in life. If I fail, I HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT MYSELF. And THAT my fellow sojourners, IS TRUE FREEDOM. The only guarantee in life is death. And death ALWAYS comes sooner than we anticipate. Waiting for the right moment or conditions or relationship will only result in not living life according to your purpose. I highly recommend reading the works of an Existential therapist by the name of Viktor Frankl (1905-1997). He survived the Nazi concentration camps, and watched every member of his family die horribly. He is a real life example of another existential truth: it is not what happens to us, but how we react to the situation that determines our destiny.

    Very Respectfully,
    Charles Mangone

  5. Wow. I am definitely going through this. I’m having a sort of quarter life crisis. I really want to teach abroad for a year, but something in the back of my mind keeps stopping me. And worry and doubt always creep in. And just like this article, I’ll have some days where I say “screw what anyone says, I’m going through with this!” and other days where “well, maybe it isn’t such a good idea, my life will be much better if I just stay where I am”.

    1. Sounds like you have a bit of an internal battle going on, which makes complete sense — change is pretty terrifying sometimes! Sometimes it’s tough to take action until the status quo becomes more painful than the unknown. The more often you keep checking in with yourself about this decision, the sooner you’ll know when you’ve crossed over that line.

  6. Thank you for this valuable reminder.

    Yesterday, I accepted a job offer that will pay $10k less than I have been earning for the last 5 years.

    It was a tough choice — all the articles say women hurt other career women by accepting low paying jobs. I think everyone (men and women) knows how hard it is to earn a salary that helps us not worry every moment of every day about having enough to get by.

    In my new company, I will have a longer commute…but I will be working with people who seem like they truly want me, in a culture that seems like it embraces and encourages passion, for a company that has demonstrated flexibility and strong management.

    It may sound to some like I chose poorly – to walk away from a tangible thing like a comfortable salary for “feelings” – but the role I am in for the current company is not valued, not deemed to have any importance, and we as employees are treated as criminals. There’s not much future when employees are leaving left and right and they have been. The company has incredible income yet does not pay the vendors (8 months and counting). The culture is completely anti-female (all female members of management have been eliminated since the acquisition last July) and I can’t change my gender (well I could but I’m not willing to do it, not for this company!).

    I have struggled with this decision because lost income is SO difficult to replace – but as you noted in your post, this “feels right” – and this may not be my “retirement company” – it might be a transition for 1-2 years until I figure out what will feel right by my future self.

    Thank you for helping to reawaken my passion for my field. When I began this journey, I was doubting that I would be able to continue working in my field. Now I know it’s my life’s work – I just need to work among people worthy of my talent and ability!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kimberly! Following your passions, desires, and emotions doesn’t always make logical sense, and plenty of people may not fully understand your decision (and that’s OK — they don’t have to!). But it’s so critical to consider how you want to FEEL at work, and the logical answer seldom leads to true fulfillment. You made an emotionally courageous decision, and we’re sending you tons of congratulations and encouragement!

  7. Great advice and challenge thank you. Getting pulled different ways for different reasons can be stressful and discouraging. I often forget how important everyday is. You reminded me not making a decision is still a decision not to act yet. I usually waste more time and energy thinking I need to make one when I already did.

  8. I really needed this. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m 24, a college graduate, and I’ve been dealing with decision making for a while. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I got into teaching after working as a substitute teacher and now I’m working on getting my teaching certification (which I’m not really invested in) but, I really want to teach abroad for a year. I’ve only told this idea to a few of my friends and I’m terrified of telling my parents. They want me to get a job with health insurance and whatnot, but I don’t want that life right now, I really want to teach abroad.
    I just always fear what others will think. I fear if I teach abroad it’ll blow up in my face. I fear that I will have made the wrong decision. I just don’t know what to do. But I know that right now, I won’t be happy with the “conventional life”. Ugh, so confused.

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