In Important Life Decisions: Writing your Stories, we looked at how to identify important life decisions to write about. In this post, we’ll look at the stories behind the choices we made.
The story behind a difficult decision can be as important (and interesting) as the decision itself. Great stories result from examining difficult decisions in hind-sight, relating how you arrived at your choices. In fact, this is a common theme among best-selling memoirs. (Click here for examples.)
Decision making process
One of my favorite quotes when I was a teen was “Not to decide is to decide.” But that was my goal, not my modus operandus. I was more likely to take the path of least resistance than I was to make a touch choice.
How did you approach your decision? Did you inundate yourself with facts? Did you go with your gut? Did you meditate? Did you examine all possible outcome scenarios?
When faced with difficult decisions, do you have trusted advisers that you turn to? When you’re writing about the choices you made, include who you trusted. What was their role? Did you bounce ideas off of them or did they guide you?
Often we’re able to make a decision based on the support of friends and family. For example, a relative providing child-care can enable a loved one to go back to school or pursue a new career. A spouse willing to tighten the budget could allow you to take a job you love over one that has better pay. Was your choice facilitated by a support system? How did that impact you?
In some cases, there’s a driving rationale behind a choice. Was this true in your case? This approach is particularly interesting when, in hindsight, you wish you had handled your difficult decision differently.
What about spiritual advisers or a higher power? Did you pray about your decision? Did you consult Scriptures? A pastor or other religious leader? How did this help you to discern which choice you should make?
Emotional toll of difficult decisions
The emotional toll accompanying a decision doesn’t necessarily relate to its importance. Just because a decision is a “no brainer” doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. The reverse can also be true. We can torture ourselves over a decision that seems unimportant.
For instance, the decision to support a relative might be easy to arrive at, but could turn out to be a turning point in your life. Similarly, it may be difficult to decide about home renovations, but in hindsight, those decisions seems mundane.
Examining the emotional cost of difficult decisions gives insight into your personality and what matters to you. Did you experience anxiety? Lack of sleep? Dread?
Were you able to let go after the decision was made or did you have second, third, or too many thoughts to count?
What stories of difficult decisions do you have to tell. Please, leave me a comment!