Anytime you're facing a major life decision there's bound to be some serious stress. Whether it be a new job, a step in your relationship, or any big move, everyone has their own ways of coping and assessing situations.
Truthfully, there's no way to know for sure if you're making the right choices in the moment but there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself, in any case, that will help you find your way through.
1. Am I doing this because I want to or because I feel pressured?
Everyone around us, including total strangers, play a role in influencing what we think we're "supposed" to do in life. Of course, with so many opinions, you're bound to feel pulled in a few directions. Sometimes opportunities will come up that you'll feel extremely pressured to jump into because the people around you believe it's best.
When I went to college, I did it because I felt like it was just what I had to do. I didn't feel passionate about what I was doing and in the end, it all crashed and burned.
I had to do a lot of picking up the pieces and rebuilding and even though I value the experience I had and know that I'm a stronger person for it, I wish I could've saved myself the trouble and expense.
When it comes to making a big decision, you definitely should listen to some advice from the people who care most about you but ultimately, you have to be responsible for shaping your life. Be sure to take some time alone to really consider your goals and desires before doing anything rash.
2. What is the risk/benefit?
With every change in life, there will be a loss.
For example, I left my job that always paid more than enough to cover the bills. I left because I was working insane hours to make that happen. I knew that in leaving, I may not make enough money to get by.
It was a huge gamble and I'm still working through my new lifestyle. I work a lot less and make a lot less money, but now I have more time for things that are really important.
Anything worth doing will present some challenge for you and will mean that other things need to fall apart for it to fall together. The question you need to ask yourself is, "What will I lose in order to gain this?" and more importantly, "Will it be worth it?"
When something new comes up, it's easy to get excited and be blinding by all the positive aspects of it, but remember to consider the position you're in now and what would have to change to accommodate this new situation.
Change is good but it's OK to love where you are, as well.
3. If I do this now and the worst possible outcome occurs, can I live with it?
The reality is, most opportunities that come our way involve a bit of a leap of faith. Nothing is guaranteed and we have to be ready for any outcome. Of course we all want to focus on how amazing things could be and you should. It's great to get excited about something, but in order to make a well-informed decision, you need to remember the door can swing either way.
Take time to consider the worst case scenario. Maybe you're thinking of buying a house that needs a lot of renovations. If HGTV has taught us anything, it's that you'll never truly know what you're dealing with until you begin and it's too late to back out.
How bad could things get? Could you handle that? Are you prepared? What would be the backup plan? It's better to go into something with a clear idea of all the possible challenges and a plan to conquer them if necessary.
4. Will I be hurting someone else if I do this?
You life is your life and it's OK to want what you want. However, if there are other people involved in the decision you're about to make (and there almost always is) you must consider their feelings and position as well. It's OK to make moves for yourself, but it's not OK to trample on others in the process.
If you think what you're doing would hurt someone else, make sure you talk to them. Be open and honest. Maybe you have the chance to travel abroad for school, but it'll mean six months away from your significant other. It doesn't mean you shouldn't go, but you should discuss their thoughts as well.
5. Is this going to be for my benefit or someone else's?
Doing things for others is wonderful, but where should you draw the line? Making major life changes and sacrifices for someone else's benefit isn't necessarily wrong, but it is very difficult. It can lead to regret and resentment, which is not something you want in your life.
Just because you care about someone else's goals, doesn't mean you should forfeit your own. Perhaps your signifiant other is moving away for a job and wants you to come. You need to ask yourself is that's what YOU want to do, or if you'd be doing it solely for them.
It could be a great adventure for both that strengthens the relationship, or it could spell disaster and you'll have to search yourself to figure out which.
In your deliberations, always remember that your wishes and your dreams must be considered.
6. What do I really want RIGHT NOW?
The fact is, not everything is a "now or never" scenario. Maybe it's OK to take extra time to think or maybe it's even OK to say, "Not right now." The future is important and we should all be considering it in our choices, but today matters, too.
Just because your boyfriend is proposing, doesn't mean you have to accept right this minute. Someone who loves you will understand if you don't feel ready and will know that it doesn't mean you never will be.
Don't rush things. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
This six-question method is sure to ease some of the challenge of tough decision making. Remember, no choice is ever easy but you are the one who knows what's best for you. Good luck!