Even if you don’t read much poetry, you probably know The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Generations of students have pondered the image of a man choosing between two paths that diverge in the woods.
In real life, there are crossroads too. They’re the life-altering decisions that you make. Maybe you go to medical school or study music. Maybe you marry your high school sweetheart or stay single until you have more life experience.
Choosing a new direction in life is challenging, especially when you are anxious. It can disrupt your routines and your sense of self. Try these tips for what to do the next time you’re at a crossroads.
Making Major Decisions When You’re Anxious:
1. Identify your options. While crossroads can seem overwhelming, remember that you’re not trapped. You have two viable options. In fact, you may have even more if you take the time to recognize them.
2. Examine your values. Let your personal priorities guide you. The key to happiness and success is being authentic, instead of trying to please others.
3. Think positive. Research shows that you’ll probably make sounder decisions if you focus on what you have to gain, rather than what you’re afraid to lose. Go after what you want.
4. Listen to your feelings. Pay attention to your heart as well as your head. It’s okay to turn down a higher paying job if you dread the long commute or suspect unethical business practices.
5. Weigh the possibilities. Most things in life come with pros and cons, so consider the full range of factors. It might help to make a grid where you can list your criteria and rank them by how much they matter to you.
6. Talk it over. When the stakes are high, it’s reassuring to get input from family and friends who you trust. They may be able to see the situation more objectively and point out details you’ve overlooked.
7. Write about it. Journaling is another way to explore your thoughts and feelings. You might picture what your life would be like depending on different decisions or imagine you’re giving advice to a friend in a similar situation.
8. Take action. At some point, you’ll need to stop deliberating. People with anxiety tend to feel paralyzed in inaction. Remember the cost of delaying and give yourself a deadline if necessary.
Living with the Consequences:
1. Keep things in perspective. Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Try to relax and enjoy a restful night’s sleep. If you’re anxious, you may find that you’ve been exaggerating the risks.
2. Accept uncertainty. The truth is that life is filled with unknowns and things beyond your control. If you can make peace with that reality, you’ll feel more at ease and perform more effectively.
3. Learn from experience. You can make any circumstances work to your advantage when you adopt a growth mindset. Even if you wish you made a different choice, you can find out more about yourself and what to do next time.
4. Focus on the present. Dwelling on what could have been is usually a waste of time and energy. Devote your resources to what you can do now. Enjoy the moment and build for your future.
5. Take baby steps. In some cases, you might be able to sample a new option before you have to plunge in further.
If you’d like some help around lessening your anxiety and making big decisions even when you’re anxious, please click here for more information on anxiety therapy for women and call me soon for a free consultation.
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