By Stacey Rose, Ph.D., LCSW
What is your biggest regret? Why is that?
Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions-‘Do I stop for coffee or make it at home? What do I wear to work? What will I make for dinner? Who should I reach out to today? Do I exercise or sleep in? Where do I spend money, how much and on what? How do I respond to my friends, family, co-workers, kids, and people I encounter during my day? With all these decisions to make every day, it is likely we may look back and question whether or not we made the right decision at some point; especially the bigger decisions, such as whether or not to get married, what to do for a living, where to live, and so much more. I would like to invite you to consider that maybe there is no ‘right’ decision. Maybe instead, each decision we make at the time is the ‘right’ decision for that time; even if we see things differently later on. In other words, even if we choose a path that has a negative result, maybe there were lessons we needed to learn by walking down that path.
Some people make impulsive decisions and yet others research their options and spend a great deal of time before they can commit to a decision. No matter what you decide, the decision you make at a particular time in your life most likely seems like the “right” decision at that time. Given the cliché that ‘hindsight is 20/20’, we can’t possibly know at the moment what we will know later after having gone through the experience. Here are some steps to consider when faced with any decision:
1. Write down all the possible options (even if you don’t like some of them). Some people say, “I have no other choice.” This may not be the case- you may simply not like the other options, but there are always choices!
2. Write down what you think you will feel if you choose each of those options. Try to make it a one-word emotion. For instance, if you decide to adopt a puppy, you word might be ‘tired’ or ‘happy.’
3. Ask yourself, “What do I think my life will look like if I choose____________?” You may not know but take a guess or two-you may surprise yourself.
4. Sit quietly. It is highly likely you have your answers-learn to trust your gut. Close your eyes for 5 minutes and take deep cleansing breaths. Simply notice what that inner voice is saying. Notice without judgments-just notice.
5. Last, talk to those who know you well. Be careful with this one though as many people tend to trust their family members and friends more than themselves to make decisions for them.
No matter what the decision you are trying to make, try not to have any regrets. Live your life to the fullest each day and let all those around you know how you feel about them so nothing is left unsaid. Most people at the end of their lives don’t regret enjoying their lives, instead, they often wished they lived a more whole life. Go live yours-as completely as possible!