There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
We all, on occasion, have to make tough choices in life. We may have to choose whether or not to stay in a relationship. Or we may have to choose whether to relocate or change our job. Whenever we make such choices, not only do we have to think about ourselves, but we also have to consider the impact of our decision on others. Balancing our needs and the needs of others isn’t easy.
However, once you’ve decided what the right choice is, you need to be confident in that choice. You need to trust your judgment because, ultimately, it is your life. And, once you become an adult, you get to choose how to live it.
Below are some ways to be confident in your choices so that you will feel good about them.
Stop Worrying about What Others Will Think
Most of us reasonably feel guilty if our decisions inconvenience others, even in the slightest way. However, it isn’t always possible to make decisions that benefit everyone. As a result, to be happy in life, you have to become comfortable with the fact that sometimes you will have to make choices that are unpopular.
For instance, I have a friend who currently lives in a gorgeous home. It is an enormous, historic home in a beautiful part of the country. However, he is single man with two kids, and the upkeep of such a large house exhausts him. So, recently he decided to sell his house and move into a condo.
Now you would think that everyone would support him in this obvious choice to better his life. Well, you would be wrong. His kids, his ex-wife, and his family are all upset with him for selling the house. Of course, none of these people actually help with caring for the house. They just would like him to live there, so they don’t have to deal with any change. And now, because everyone is upset, my friend is losing confidence in his choice to sell the house.
His situation isn’t unusual. So often, when we make choices to better our lives, other people get upset. Unfortunately, most people don’t want what is best for you. They want what is best for them. They want you to maintain the status quo so that their lives don’t change.
In order to be confident in your choices, you have to be willing to upset the apple cart, so to speak. You have to accept that you may receive some negative feedback when you make choices to improve your life.
Realize That It Is OK to Take Care of Yourself
To be happy, you have to learn to take care of yourself. And you need to get used to the fact that others may not always support you in that choice.
For example, I have a friend who got divorced a couple of years ago. She was in a bad marriage and was just miserable. Her husband was moody, critical and often depressed. As a result, her days were fraught with stress. So, to preserve her sanity, she filed for divorce.
Now you would think that her friends and family members would have encouraged her. You would think that they would have wanted what was best for her. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
My friend had upset everyone’s apple cart. By getting divorced, she made them feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, people can be very selfish. As a result, she had very little support during a time when she so desperately needed it.
I’ll tell you what I told her. “You need to take care of yourself. You cannot go through life being miserable just so that others aren’t inconvenienced.”
At the end of the day, my friend got divorced. She figured that if she didn’t, she eventually would become a shell of a person. The end of the story is that now she is very relaxed and happy. But she only found happiness by having the courage to choose to take care of herself.
Accept that Tough Choices Involve Sacrifice
Tough choices by definition involve sacrifice. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be “tough.” They’d be easy.
Anytime you make a choice, you are picking one thing and giving up another. For example, I used to live overseas, and I got to know many people who were lifelong expats. These were people who chose to live and work outside of their home countries.
There is a lot to be said for the expat lifestyle. It is interesting. You live in a different culture, and you get to meet people from all over the world. And it certainly makes for good cocktail conversation (“Hey, let me tell you about the year I spent in Nepal!”). However, that lifestyle doesn’t come without sacrifice.
If you live in another country, then you don’t see your family as frequently as you would if you lived in their same town or state. That means that your relationships with your family members aren’t going to be close. They’ll be friendly, but they won’t be close. That is because when you live overseas, you aren’t a part of the fabric of their daily lives.
Nevertheless, lots of people choose the expat lifestyle because they are OK with making that sacrifice. They are OK with having a somewhat distant relationship with their family. And that is the key to making tough choices. You have to accept that there will be some things that you will give up. Unfortunately, you can’t have it all. You can’t live in Paris, France and be extremely close with your mom in Des Moines, Iowa. That isn’t possible.
The bottom line is that making tough choices isn’t easy for any of us. However, don’t worry if your choices aren’t popular. Sometimes the right choice isn’t the popular choice. And accept that tough choices will involve some sacrifice. But when you make tough choices, know that ultimately, if they are the right choices, your life will be better for it. (To read more about making good decisions, click here.)
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