After months of searching for my next career adventure, I recently had three different job opportunities present themselves. I pursued all three. As things began looking promising, I began feeling anxious. Each role peeked my interest for different reasons and each role felt like it would take me down a very different path. Despite trying to take a ’things will work out as they should’ approach, I couldn’t escape the weight of the decision. My over-active mind jumped at the opportunity and before I knew it I was stressing about the pros/cons of each job in every spare minute. I talked to anyone that would listen. I reviewed my options each night and every new day. I knew it was wasn’t working but I struggled to pull myself out of that downward spiral of over-thinking. After two weeks, I had neck pain, wasn’t sleeping through the night, and felt anxious most the day. The body always raises red flags when something is off.

I tried to take my own advice – journal to get my thoughts out of my head and meditate to hear my gut’s opinion. I still wasn’t finding the clarity I sought. Then one fateful morning, when I was particularly exhausted from running laps in my head, I had a simple realization.  I can’t predict the future and I don’t know where each role will lead. Instead, I needed to focus on different questions.

  • What drives me in life?
  • What achievements are important to me?
  • What does my dream life look like?

These questions helped remind me of the unique life I want to build for myself. One where I have ample time to focus on my relationships, passions, career goals, and love for lazy Sundays. One where I am present with the people I love more often than not. One where I’m not defined by my career achievements.

Remembering this vision of a good life gave me something concrete to evaluate each role against. I shifted from stressing about what paths the roles would take me down, to focusing on which role would help me build the life I want. This is how I finally gained the clarity and confidence to make a decision.

The truth is life is hard. We face big decisions all the time, and each one is a fork in the road. Make this many big decisions can quickly feel overwhelming. But the forks aren’t going anywhere. Which is why it’s so important to have guideposts – visions of what you want to build, achieve, or embrace in life. An understanding of what drives you. Clarity on what’s most important to you.

Spend some time diving in to these questions. A lot of time! Because the answers become guideposts that help you make the tough decisions and stay focused on building your own unique life. If you need a little inspiration to get started, spend 4 minutes listening to Alan Watts. Then journal about those questions for ten minutes. I bet you’ll be surprised what comes up.