how to make a decision (and a regret!)

decision making

Have you ever tried something new, only to panic (about two hours/two days/two weeks in) that you’ve made the wrong decision?

Yeah, me neither.

Jkjkjk 😉 We’re only human, after all. We are learning and growing all the time! So it’s to be expected that every now and then we will make a decision that doesn’t feel just right. There’s something about it that you can’t quite put your finger on…maybe you’re still second-guessing it a month in…or maybe you are flat-out regretting the decision. I’ve done it all, a few times.

I once made a MAJOR decision, like moving-across-an-ocean decision, only to regret it a few weeks in and subsequently spent the months afterward living in a pit of depression. There were many factors that made this decision a difficult one, not the least being my age- 19 and newlywed and wanting to experience everything life had to offer, all at once. I chalk this one up to sheer ignorance and look back at that young woman with compassion. This was a wrong decision -simply made from life inexperience- that lead to a hard season.

Awhile later, I nervously jumped into Aesthetician school. I had a brand-new career as a makeup artist and it was beginning to show some promise, but I was stuck- what was the next step? How do I navigate this artist-freelance life? Would someone please just tell me WHAT TO DO NEXT?? I enrolled in school with the thought that I needed an aesthetician license (think facials and waxing) in order to do makeup for video shoots and fashion shows. Guess what? You didn’t. But I didn’t find this out until later and meanwhile I was struggling through school- working during the day and class at night, all on a shoe-string budget. When my husband lost his job, I thought that I needed to work more, to earn more. So about half-way through the program, I dropped out of school.

This was a decision that I later regretted. Not because I wanted to be an aesthetician, although the extra set of skills and state license could have opened up a lot of opportunity. But I regretted it because it was a rash decision, one that I made out of fear (gotta pay those bills!) and frustration (facials were so boring.) Looking back, I wish that I had sought wise counsel about that decision. I wish that I had searched out financial aid (which I now know is available.) I wish that I had shared my fears and my goals with others and allowed those around me to give the encouragment to stick it out. To keep pressing on. To say, You can do this! This was the wrong decision because my motives were off; making a different decision could have benefited me (emotionally, financially) in so many ways.

Recently, Michael and I made the decision to change up our boy’s education style for the next school year. Y’all, this was a hard one! Decisions about your children’s schooling is always difficult and it feels like as soon as you’ve made one decision, you’re turning around to make another (doesn’t it feel like we JUST made the decision to homeschool?? This year has flown by!) Homeschooling for the past year-and-a-half or so has been a good choice for our family. We’ve absolutely loved the flexibility it’s given our schedule- I mean, there’s no way we could have jetted off to Europe for two weeks otherwise! We’ve also made wonderful friends who are like-minded about things like family time, literature, outside/imaginative play, and following Christ as a family. Flexibility and friends: for these two reasons alone, our time as home-schoolers has been worth it.

But seasons also change and we have new challenges, we’re taking on new projects, and we’re building a new house (more on that soon!) We’ve had to examine our priorities both in this season and overall as a family. Our desire to give our sons a Christ-centered education and still have ample family time has led our research efforts to a small Christian school nearby our soon-to-be new home. Like I mentioned earlier, it hasn’t been a quick decision, but after much prayer and countless conversations, we feel like this is the right one for next year. This decision was challenging (mostly) because of logistics, but we hope that it is the right one for our family.

Decision making is a necessary part of life. It can either render us scared stiff/make us a crazy version of ourselves OR we can view it as a tool in our arsenal of life-hacking abilities. Let’s aim for the second and if we have to go through the first to get there, well, hopefully we’ll save some of that hard-earned wisdom to share with others.

Here’s a few gems I’ve learned and want to pass along– maybe they will help to clarify a particular decision that’s staring you down.

  1. Give it time. Probably my worst mistakes/bad decisions were made because I was impatient and thought that if I just ripped off the band-aid, then everything will just work out fine. It didn’t. Better to take the time to do research, to ask trusted sources, to really work through the implications of your decision, and most of all, to pray. And listen. It also helps to give a bracket of time appropriate for the decision. Something not-so-life-changing? Maybe a week of waiting. Something that will change the direction of your life? Maybe give it a few months. Even six months. You won’t regret the time spent praying, waiting, listening. You might, however, regret a hasty decision.
  2. Streamline routine decisions. This is a way of helping you to save your energy for the important decisions by automating the non-essential ones. Examples? Meal plan your week. Grocery shop on the same day (or order your groceries at the same time every week.) Simplify your wardrobe, KonMarie-style (even go Steve Jobs and create for yourself a “work” uniform!) Put your vitamins/supplements in those day-of-the-week sorters that grandmas use. Figure out what kind of coffee you like and stick with it! (Your barista will love you for it.) Read your email at the same time every day or at the same time every week (especially those longer, newsletter-style ones.) You get the idea- simplify your life by setting up routine as much as possible so that you reserve your brain and heart energy to give to the big decisions.
  3. Lastly, take a minute to listen to this great podcast. Emily talks about decision making every week from a different angle and gives practical, encouraging advice to help us all make better decisions. And her voice alone is like therapy, so enjoy! 😊

Let me know what advice you’d give to a friend about making a big decision…is there a certain trick you’ve learned? A special way to think about it? Share in the comments or DM me on Instagram!


Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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