Turn Your Life Around: 11 Great Tips to Make a Confident Decision

31/08/10

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We all battle dilemmas from time to time. Dilemmas are hard choices where it seems almost impossible to choose one option over the other. Like when deciding to pack up your stuff, hand in the towel and change your life around. Or like I just did, put my boring life on hold to study photography in a different country. This post is for those who can’t decide whether to quit your day job, leave your not-anymore-so-significant-other, take a year off to travel or any similar, truly scary things to do that will set you free. I give you 11 tips on how to make the decision.

1. Evaluate the Current Situation

Constantly evaluate your current status quo and what direction your life is taking. So many people wake up one day realizing they missed out on great opportunities because they take for granted that the current way is the only way. I recommend taking time to conciously evaluate your life at least once a month. I suggest making a list of all the areas of your life and them rate the area from 1 to 10 where 10 is perfect and 1 is disaster. For example financial: 8, social: 5, career: 2 etc. When you know what you are dealing with, it is easier to evaluate your options.

2. Live the Questions

There’s a powerful quote by Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Stephen Mitchell) that says: “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart & to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. & the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer“.  Try to accept that you don’t have the answer to everything yet. If you had not been dealing with this overwhelming question, you would not have been growing, evolving, living. Just breathe and don’t panic.

3. Follow your heart

Or your gut. Or the voice in your head. The answer lies in you, you are the answer. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it is not right for you. The for someone else might just not be your thing. I can usually feel with my whole self that a decision is not right. Let’s say your body aches, you are tense and restless. It’s your body telling you that you are on the wrong track. The right choice is supposed to give you butterflies, make you jump with joy or sing out loud.  But most times it is just not that simple. Then you have to search a little deeper into your soul and see if you can find any signs.

4. Pros and Cons

Lists are powerful tools in a decision making process. Make a list of pros and cons for each option. Don’t limit yourself, write down everything that comes into mind, even though they might appear small and meaningless. Feel that you shouldn’t get the new job because your office doesn’t seem right? Or you don’t like the sister of this guy you plan to move in with? Write it down! The trick is how you weigh your pros and cons agains each other. Evaluate every single item on your list and make sure you weigh them according to your priorities.

5. Ask for advice (&don’t follow it)

Everyone should have a board of advisers. Go ask your friends, family, collegues, and even strangers. Just make sure that a) your advisers are not biased or can gain anything from you chosing one option over the other and b) that your board of advisers are someone you trust. If their advice don’t resonnate with you, don’t follow it. And under no circumstances think that you are obliged to follow any advice even though it comes from someone credible, famous, important or influencial.

6. Test it out

Is there any way you can test out a decision before making it? This is what job placements and internships are for! How about giving yourself a limited time to see if something works? I suggest testing out a new vocation or field of study for at least 6 months (or a year) and then see how it goes. If you are not satisfied, find something else. Don’t be afraid to fail, the biggest failure is not doing anything at all. I don’t belive time spent that don’t contribute to your ultimate goal is wasted, all experiences are valuable lessons.

7. Compromise or Find a different solution

Still can’t make a decision? Don’t worry, none of your current options may be right for you. Sometimes we are so focused on the impossibility of our dilemma that we forget that there are always more than two options. If you can’t make a decision you either have to compromise or move on. Don’t accept compromise if it won’t make you happy. Just go on and search for better solutions. If you want it enough, you will find a way.

8. Fire, Aim, Ready!

The most important step. Jump into the water with both eyes closed if you have to. Don’t be afraid of what is ahead, there is only one way of finding it out. Don’t spend too long on this point, once the decision is made, it is better to get it over with than to slowly and painfully take baby steps. (However, if you are extra scared and still not sure that you are doing the right thing, baby steps may be your thing).

9. Don’t burn bridges & close doors

Even though you are secure in your decision, you may eventually change your mind. Maybe you lose your initial excitement or something unforeseen happens. Don’t burn bridges and slam the door in your old boss’ face. Keep your options open by gently and politely turning others down. Resign your current status with dignety and respect, and you’ll see that if something happens or you realize that your new adventure didn’t outweigh your old reality, you’ll get your world back and more.

10. Change your mind

And do it with your head high. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Admit when something sucks (read this awesome article by Danielle Laporte) and move on.

11. Go for it 100%

When the decision is made and implemented, when you are living your new life, don’t forget to live it 100%. Give it all you’ve got, don’t hold yourself back & live like every day is your last. Chances are that you are now happy that you made the decision and you wouldn’t go back for the whole world.

Have you made a big decision lately? How did it go?

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

the notebook doodles August 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

i actually made a huge decision recently. and it took a lot of time and mental preparation for me to make that decision :)

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Marthe August 31, 2010 at 11:33 am

It can be all-consuming can’t it? I hope your decision went well and that you are now satisfied with your choice?

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Tabitha August 31, 2010 at 2:37 pm

What an awesome post. It’s a great guide for people who are in the middle of deciding.
I’m still making my list of pros and cons, and i realized that it doesn’t take one sitting to do this. Sometimes it just comes up in the middle of the day, unexpected, and I’d have to immediately bring out my notebook to write it down. It takes a lot of time, especially when that decision is life-changing.

Again, really really great post.

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Marthe August 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Thank you so much!

You are so right, it’s hard to get out of your head, isn’t it.. The good this is, once you write it down it’s easier to forget it and focus on something else for a while.

Good luck with your decision!

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Samantha August 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Wonderful post. I would love to create a link to this from my blog.

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Marthe August 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thank you Samantha!

Please link to my post, that is the best way to help out at this point, really. ♥ I’ll be adding your blog to my reader too, it looks great! :)

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Kate September 1, 2010 at 9:50 pm

hi marthe! i just stumbled upon your sweet little blog and couldn’t resist hitting that ” follow” button! i look forward to reading about your adventures in the future! xo kate

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Marthe September 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Hi Kate! Thank you so much for your kind words! It means a lot to me that you take your time to write:) Now following your blog as well:)

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Gerri September 2, 2010 at 3:48 am

Great Article! I am faced with a very tough decision right now and it’s going to be very difficult to do what I need to do. I guess I was searching for inspiration tonight, I found this link through Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project Blog. I’d love to share it with friends if that’s okay? I see you read Victoria Gaines also, she’s one of my favorites!

Gerri

Have a blessed day!

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Marthe September 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Thank you! :) I would like to wish you the best of luck with your decision, I know the process can be hard, but also very rewarding!

I’m really happy that you wish to share this with your friends, I hope to help people with my writing, so sharing the love is the best way you can help me in return!

I just had a wonderful day, hope you have a great day too!

Marthe

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PinkBow September 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

i love this post! when trying to make a difficult decision, i look for little signs…events around me that seem to help make my decision. but i have used many of those listed above too.

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Marthe September 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Thank you so much! I try to look for signs too, but I only follow them if they point in the direction I want to go;)

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Diana September 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

Great, great post.

I very much am a believer in making a decision and going with it. I changed my life seven years ago by leaving the corporate world, buying an abandoned farm in Italy and turning it into a B&B with my husband. For me, fear came afterwards, after taking the jump — but I now see that that was my opportunity to work on parts of myself that I had been burying for years (the fears didn’t start with the change, but they bubbled to the surface then).

I like your blog a lot, and wish you much, much success with your decisions! :)

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Marthe September 7, 2010 at 8:38 am

Thank you!

This sounds awesome! I’m sure you live the life a lot of people only dream of. And I am also familiar with fear and how it challenges other parts of you as well. I hope you have managed to work through it!

Thank you again, your comment is so sweet and inspiring!

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Liss September 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I could relate to so much in this post!! I’ve made MASSIVE changes to my life in the last few years. First was ending a relationship Id been in for 8 year, since highschool. It was surreal, sometimes I had just surrended my life to being with this person even though I knew deep in my heart that it wasn’t right for me….it took all of my being to leave. Afterwards I was left with nothing, literally he took everything. But If I didnt go through that I wouldnt of been able to now be in a relationship where Im in love and have no doubt. Its the most amazing feeling to look at your relationshaip and have no doubt. The second big change was the move from Melbourne to Gold Coast which Im going through right now and everything is new…new job, new collegues, new surroundings.

xo

PS. Im going to print this post out and stick it up in my office.

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Marthe September 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

Wow, these changes sound awesome! Reading about how you managed makes me feel so happy for you! I wish you the best of luck with your new surroundings, I’ll be in a completely new environment in less than a week myself & I’m so excited!

Aww, thank you, it means a lot to me that you’re telling me this!

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Lili September 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

That is a great list Marthe. Are all of these items yours or were you able to pull inspiration from other sources as well? I find that most of my lists tend to be pulled from different sources. So many authors have so many great things to say. I may borrow a few from your list here as well. :) Have a great weekend.

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Marthe September 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thank you!

When I wrote the post, I wrote from my own experiences and what I learned from making the decision to put my law studies on hold to study photography. However, I read a huge amount of self-development and inspiration blogs, so I might have used some advice I found from there too! Most of my writing comes from my own ideas, and I always quote sources where I’m using someone else’s work.

I’m a little behind on replying to comments, so I had a great weekend! Hope you have a wonderful week!

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Madelene September 8, 2010 at 8:55 am

I love reading your posts, they give me motivation.

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Marthe September 17, 2010 at 11:54 am

Thank you! :)

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Kimberley September 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

Fantastic post Marthe! I believe in going with your gut feeling and not allowing any ‘what ifs’ in life. The last point is so true – go for it 100% and you’ll never regret it!
Love this post (just like the rest)! x

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Marthe October 14, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Thank you so much for this! :)

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Cinnamon October 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

This year has been a process of making HUGE decisions in small steps. One foot is off the ledge about to leap, the other still “grounded”. So many of your points are great – I love the mix of rational/intuitive.
I have a quote on my wall: At what cost do we get used to things? from Jose Saramago in The Cave. Getting used to/settling/becoming numb are coping techniques for so many people.
I like your tip on listening to your body – sometimes we talk ourselves into acceptance of what is or of what seems like a good choice but when we pause, breath and notice our body…it says something else. Do we get tense at work or drained from a being around a person we care about but who can’t give back? Do we freeze when faced with certain questions?
My big personal change is pretty huge. After 20 years in a suburban single family home, in a job I am neither thriving nor succeeding at that paid the bills for my kids in college after my divorce 5 years ago, I am shedding stuff (oodles of stuff – from my x, my kids, my mom….I was the repository of their things they couldn’t let go), jobs, long term but stale relationship with someone I care for but can’t move further with, and even my concept of who I am/want/can be (after so many years of being the nuturing one in so many of my relationships, the solid stable one) and leaving my house, the midwest – at 52 still in my home state. I am going who knows where to work who knows where – there is no job/family/guy (kids now graduating or in grad school but not settled themselves) determining where I go so the world, literally, is an option. The possibility thrills me and the too open options paralyze me for a year but now…the house is for sale, the books are packed, the furniture being sold. I may “get a job” in the south, if no job is here when I close….I may “travel and teach/tutor” abroad. I wake up scared and exhilerated since I made the leap to sell….like a climber looking at the peak. I may not make it but I am going to climb all the same.

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Marthe October 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

wow, so much is good is happening in your life!
I’m inspired by how brave this move is, it’s a big step, but I’m sure you will not regret it. After all, we usually regret only the things we didn’t do.. (someone great said this, but I can’t remember who!)

I wish you the best of luck with this process, wherever it may lead you. Just follow your heart, and jump into it with both feet. (close your eyes if you have to, change is scary stuff!) When I moved to England only about a month ago, I was terrified and kept myself occupied constantly for the first two weeks in order to not having to think too much about what I did. It worked!

I’m adding your blog to my reader and hope you stay in touch and keep me posted about the next chapter in your life! Let me know if there is anything at all I can do to help!

Marthe

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Scott December 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Cinnamon, I absolutely love this quote “At what cost do we get used to things?”

Thanks for sharing.

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mari kolbeinson May 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Dette va ein kjempebra tipsliste marthe!
(likte foresten av d va 11)

<3

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Marthe May 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Takk Mari! Jeg skal begynne å bruke rare oddetall mer, for din skyld! :)

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Can't March 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I know I need to separate from my 8 yr long relationship, we have a little girl age 6.
I can’t bring myself to do it; it feels bad inside when I think about bringing it up and separating. I feel worse because I don’t… I was about to erase this whole message and have a conversation with her this morning and send a different kind of comment. Any feedback?

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Marthe April 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I think you should follow your heart on this one. Your little girl deserves a parent who is happy. If your relationship isn’t good, staying together for the child will put a huge amount of pressure on her, if you know what I mean. Although I see why it breaks your heart, I really think it’s wise to leave. Have you tried counseling as a couple? Or maybe you would want to talk it through with a professional before making such an important decision?

Hope this was of help, although my reply came a little late.

Love,

Marthe

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Jessica Hollingworth April 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I stumbled upon this on Pinterest and I am so happy that I did! This is absolutely prefect for me right now where I am in life, so thank you!:) All year Ive been struggling with the decision to transfer colleges and move back closer to home and in the past month I have made my decision to go for it. It really wasn’t an easy decision I’ve had so much anxiety and stress over it but now I’m trying to move forward and really commit to the decision that I’ve made and your steps are really just perfect!(:

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Marthe April 20, 2012 at 7:15 am

Thank you so much!

It sounds like you have already made your decision. Does if feel good? I know it must be super-scary, but are you excited? I wish you the best of luck with your move, hope you get everything you dream of and more!

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Jessica Hollingworth April 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I have made my decision but I’m still waiting on answers from a couple schools so I still have anxiety about it but I have plenty of back up plans, so It’ll be fine. I am excited because this is what I’ve wanted for awhile, I think I am just scared to have regrets but my pros really outweigh the cons. Thank you so much:) I just wish I stumbled upon this sooner!

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Jaclyn Nicole December 6, 2012 at 5:09 am

First and foremost, your whole blog is truly inspirational and very interesting to read. I am so happy I just came across this! Being only 19, I have been especially conflicted with so many decisions in the last year between many aspects of my life. What 19 year old isn’t? I espeically loved your “Live the Questions” post. That quote by Rainer Rilke could not have fallen into my lap at a better moment. It is so nice to be able to relate to so many of your thoughts. Espeically the one about learning french ;) I must say, that is my number 1 goal throughout my life. Anyway, keep it up and I will keep reading and exploring your blog. Thank you so much! x

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Susan Barker July 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Really inspirational. I have the biggest decision to make with regards selling or keeping my house. I will certainly try the pros and cons. I am glad I find this advice and hope I can make changes in my life.

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Jaqueline+Freidberg December 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Your outlook in how we conduct our actions most often changes our viewpoint. Sometimes good and sometimes this change is bad but it is our point of view that controls how we feel.

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