Figure Out What You Want: 6 Essential Strategies by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud

We shall not cease from our exploring
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Elliot

Earlier this week, a friend of mine told me about a difficult choice she is having to make soon. She reminded me of how decisions are usually not as simple as they seem. The in-between phase of not knowing what the best option is can be frustrating.

Here are some suggestions of ways to handle the challenge:

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
— Nelson Mandela

1. Get to a place of detachment about the topic.

No matter what happens, everything will be ok. Create space to think. Relax. Journal. Get out of town. Go for a walk.

Ask: What can I do to make this issue feel like less of a big deal?

Let me listen to me, and not to them.
— Gertrude Stein

2. Find your voice.

Kick everyone else's opinion out of your head until you figure out what you want. Get rid of any reason to rebel. Create space to hear to yourself.

Ask: What is this decision really about for me?

Great change doesn’t come with official endorsement. It just never has. Ganguin, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Uccello (and all those revolutionary women artists whose names we sadly don’t know) all changed the face of art, for example, and all were ridiculed. Change occurs at the edges, without permission.
— Patti Digh

3. Break stupid rules.

We can get a little carried away with the amount of arbitrary rules we follow. Guidelines become law quickly. We have to learn to scrap our to do lists and the expectations of others for the way our lives are supposed to look.

Ask: How are my goals and guidelines working for for me?

The really tough choices...don’t center upon right versus wrong. They involve right versus right. They are genuine dilemmas precisely because each side is firmly rooted in one of our basic, core values.
— Rushworth Kidder

4. Expand your outlook.

We can get carried away with labeling people and situations, but there is always more going on than what we see. Deconstruct what you know to be true.

Ask: What are some options I haven't considered yet?

The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.
— Lucy Parsons

5. Experiment with your options.

Try them all out before making a choice. Do something unexpected. Say yes when you're tempted to say no. Say no if you usually say yes.

Ask: How can I take action now?

Breathe. Pay attention. Be kind. Stop grabbing.
— Annie Lamott

6. Don't choose anything yet.

Sit with the topic for a bit. Take any pressure off. Accept the ambiguity of the situation instead of forcing a choice.

Ask: How can I find contentment where I am?


Waiting is hard for everyone. We have to give each other permission to find out what we want for ourselves. Have patience with yourself and those around you while you make your next step. You'll figure it out.

What helps you make choices you're happy about later on?

How do you support people around you trying to make big decisions?