If you’re at a crossroads in life, ask yourself these 8 questions

So, you’re at a crossroads in life.

There is probably a parallel universe out there where you choose option A.

There is also one where option B takes priority.

It’s up to you to decide which one you’ll enter in the here and now.

It’s terrifying, isn’t it? I mean, what if you choose wrong and end up living in misery for the rest of your life?

Alright, let’s not get carried away. The truth of the matter is, life is never only bad or only good. Whatever you choose, you will end up happy in one form or another. It’s the form itself that’s in question.

Want some help navigating this grand dilemma? I encourage you to ask yourself these 8 questions.

1) Which path will challenge me to grow?

Let’s say you’re deciding between starting your own business and accepting a promotion at your corporate job.

The promotion comes with plenty of benefits, from free dental care to the feeling of safety you get when you’re huddled inside your comfort zone.

But entrepreneurship is what sparks a flame within you. It’s uncertain, it’s dangerous, it’s risky – but the journey itself inspires you to wake up every morning with a grin on your face and give it your absolute best.

If you accept the promotion, your life won’t change much.

If you start a business, you’re entering a whole new realm of experiences and opportunities.

The first fosters stagnation.

The latter encourages rapid growth and positive personality change. Research confirms this – a 2020 study found that going outside your comfort zone promotes well-being and gives you a sense of agency.

Don’t choose the path of convenience. Choose the path that challenges you to become a better version of yourself.

2) When I flip a coin, am I disappointed with the result?

Trusting your gut feeling may seem like some voodoo schmoodoo abracadabra nonsense, but the science is clear – the brain and the gut are closely linked.

Your gastrointestinal tract is super sensitive to emotions, and while your brain may be rationalizing and dissecting everything via logic, your gut knows how you truly feel deep down.

Studies show that the best way to make a decision is to pair logical thinking with intuition.

Here’s where Hannah Montana comes in.

(I bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

When I was about ten, I watched an episode of Hannah Montana where she struggled to make a decision, and so she flipped a coin. As soon as she looked at the result, she felt really disappointed, which is how she knew she truly wanted option B.

So, let’s apply Hannah Montana’s decision-making process in real life and flip a coin. What’s your immediate reaction on an emotional level?

Your gut feeling is smarter than you know.

3) What would I do if no one in this world knew me?

Ever since you came into this world, the people in your life have been shaping you into who you are today. With each relationship, you’ve grown, you’ve changed, and you’ve integrated pieces of another person into the fabric of your own being.

It’s amazing just how much influence we have on each other.

But it also has its downsides. Sometimes, what you do is more of a performance for others than a fulfilling experience in and of itself.

I, for one, always wanted to get a Ph.D. Now that I’m an MA, I’m still considering moving forward in my academic journey from time to time. But there’s one thing that’s holding me back – some time ago, I was hit by the realization that I liked the narrative about academia more than the actual experience of it.

I want to get a Ph.D. because I want to be able to say I have one. Not because working towards it would make me happier than I am now.

If you weren’t able to put your accomplishments on display, would you still want to do that thing you’re considering? If you could never tell anyone about it, would it still light a fire within your soul?

If your answer is no… you may like the idea of it more than the thing itself.

4) What do I value in life?

When you’re at a crossroads in life, it’s more important than ever to get your priorities straight.

And that’s because the thing that seems so exciting now may also very well be the downfall of something you value so much more.

Let’s say your number one dream in life is to build a healthy and happy family. You want a partner who will always be by your side, children who feel loved and well cared for, and a community that catches you when you fall.

But then a career opportunity props up. If you take it, you’ll have to move away from home for a year, will miss out on an important stage of your child’s development, and will show your spouse where your priorities truly lie.

In such a scenario, it’s crucial to ask yourself what you value and how much worth you assign to each aspect of your life. Is the extra money worth it? Are there other ways you can grow your career that don’t require you to move away?

Of course, every situation comes with its own complexities and nuances that can’t be easily summed up in an online post. But you get the idea.

5) What are the pros and cons of each scenario?

Alright, it’s time to put your analytical thinking to work. If you’re facing a big dilemma, don’t be afraid to use the good old pros and cons method.

Jot down different columns on a piece of paper and get writing. What are the benefits and disadvantages of each situation?

If you want to make the process a bit more realistic, assign your pros and cons an importance rating between 1 and 5. This is because while you may have a lot of cons, for instance, they might be much less significant than the three big pros.

6) Which option leads to my ideal life?

We’ve all imagined our ideal future at some point or another.

What does this perfect life look like for you? What’s your job? Who are you as a person? How do you spend your time? What brings you a sense of happiness?

Once you’ve got that figured out, look at the decision in front of you. Does it lead to that life you’re dreaming of?

If we look at our “family versus career” example again, someone who dreams of being the CEO of a multimillionaire company might prioritize a new career opportunity over their family life.

Someone whose ideal life revolves around playing in the garden with their kids might decide to put their family first.

Both are valid in different ways.

7) If I make decision A, will I always wonder about the possibilities of decision B?

Making major life choices is maddening. Every time I choose A, I am simultaneously letting go of B, not knowing where it would have taken me.

You are simply always waving goodbye to another you, another life, another future.

Now it’s up to you to decide which future is worth discarding.

It’s hard, isn’t it?

But here’s what I’ve learned over the years: if you can’t make your peace with path X because you know for a fact you will always wonder what Y could have been…maybe Y is calling out to you so strongly that you simply need to give it a go.

And whatever you end up choosing, it is meant to be. Let go of what-ifs.

8) Am I nervous yet excited?

Making the decision to turn your life around never feels safe. You are entering a new chapter of your story, and it’s scary and uncertain and full of challenges.

As someone who’s going through this exact thing right now, I know how uncomfortable the whole process is. Every time I realize I am throwing myself off the side of a cliff into the great unknown, I feel so queasy I want to float out of my own body.

But you know what?

I’m also excited. The more I look back on what I’m leaving behind, the more I’m realizing I truly do need a major change to move forward.

The future is scary. But it’s also thrilling. And the thrill, the excitement, the nervous jitters?

That’s your body telling you that you’re moving toward what’s meant for you.

Embrace it.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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