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The 4 questions that will help you make every major life decision

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Back in March, Justin and I were struggling to decide if we wanted to take the plunge and move to Seattle, or stay another year in Kansas. After much hand-wringing and discussion, we decided to move. Then, even as we prepared for our cross-country drive, we had an opportunity drop into our laps that changed everything: The president of the company that I worked for as a contractor emailed me and asked if I would consider moving to California to work full-time, instead.

This choice completely posed me. On the one hand, I loved the idea of working for my company full-time; it’s a fantastic company with a great culture and great people. Plus, I didn’t have anything lined up in Seattle yet. But on the other hand, I was so excited about moving back to my hometown and living near my parents and attending my old church. So I did what any responsible adult would do: I called my mother. And she told me to answer these four questions:

What’s the best thing that could happen if I do it?
What’s the worst thing that could happen if I do it?
What’s the best thing that could happen if I don’t do it?
What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do it?

And ultimately, we decided to do it. Less than two weeks after arriving in Seattle, we packed up again and moved to Sacramento. Among the benefits to moving that we identified were the stability of a guaranteed job, a sense of adventure in living in a great new state, the ability for me to build my value to the company, and the knowledge that everything I love about Seattle will still be there if we decide to return.

It wasn’t as simple as that, of course; our ultimate decision to move to Sacramento was enormously challenging and involved a great deal of pros-and-cons discussions, negotiating with my potential boss, changing my mind multiple times a day, and extreme nervousness. But it certainly looks nice and neat in blog form, doesn’t it?

So, as you stand on the precipice of your next big decision—whether to quit your job, have a baby, break up with your S.O., declutter your house, move to a new country, go back to school, whatever—ask yourself those four questions. Familiarizing yourself with the opportunity and risk of a choice, being mindful of how thinking about those possibilities makes you feel, and being honest about how much each outcome matters to you will surely bring you better insight, and hopefully, greater happiness.

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