Big Decisions

“A major life decision is never a choice but rather a realization that the decision has already been made.” Doug Cooper

Over the past year I  found myself in the middle of one of the biggest decisions of my life.   I needed to decide if I should leave my job.  I’ve worked within the Adolescent Clinic at Boston Children’s for 18 years and have loved much of the work.  I also spent almost 20 years at the bedside within the hospital.  That’s a long time.  I began to wonder how long should I “do the same thing” in the “same way”.  I felt that I needed a change.

I was grateful to be working in my position,  yet I have made concessions through the years around family, self care, holidays, etc.  I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family, have more independence, flexibility and just explore what else the world has waiting.  My oldest granddaughter is now 8 years and I know which direction the clock is headed.

I always thought I could trust my gut when it comes to making decisions….the “second brain”  it has been called.  So many times I have been able to go with my instincts, but this time I wasn’t sure.  I knew that this was a big decision, one that I couldn’t reverse  and .. my gut was churning.  Did this mean I should do nothing?

I talked to people, read and listened to podcasts.  In the end I found the following helped me the most:

Research:

I talked to friends, family and started to do some research on line.  One book I found is called “Far Sighted..How we make big decisions that matter most.”   The author, Steven Johnson, talked about the limitations of  the typical “pros’ and “cons” list and suggested alternatives.  One suggestion is to tell yourself a story about your plans.  Tell one story which ends with a good outcome, one with negative outcome and one.. just different.  Research has shown that 85% of people don’t look at alternative choices but rather stick to choice A or choice B.   There are usually other directions our lives take other than what we might expect. My alternative story told me that I could find work if needed. This was very reassuring and gave me more confidence that I was making the right choice.

Mindfulness:

IMG_0378

Mindfulness is something I try to practice regularly and especially when things are difficult.  Noticing how I feel in the moment allows me to uncover some of my fears.  Research has shown that mindfulness can help us be less reactive to stress, which is important when in the middle of a big change.

Values list:IMG_4645

One of Mr Johnson’s other suggestions is to write a list of “values” or things that are most important at this stage of your life….give it a number of importance and see where it lines up in relation to your-12 choice.  This was a no brainer.   Although I did get satisfaction from my job and have developed many important relationships, leaving won, hands down, with the values list.

So, I decided to leave my job.  I’m very grateful now for the process and feel my choice  has led me to where I belong right now.  It’s hard to know exactly what the future will bring, but I’m open to a new way of looking at things, new ways of spending my days and new opportunities.    

Now to decide where I will land and what I will do over the next few years.  More to come.

I would love to hear about other experiences with big decisions.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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