A former client recently reached out to me with a question about making big decisions. She wrote:

“I’m applying to grad schools. (Yay!) I keep going back and forth about whether to go to a school nearby or to move to a new city for school. On the one hand, the schools that are close to me are less exciting. But on the other hand, I’m not sure I want to move. Do you have any words of wisdom about making big decisions like this?”

Her email immediately brought to mind two key metaphors that I use when making big decisions. The first is hunting and gathering. And the second is the gates.

First, Hunting & Gathering:

Whenever you come to a fork in the road like this where you need to choose which way to turn, I invite you to pause and ask yourself a bunch of questions. It can be helpful to see the questions yourself as either being hunting questions or gathering questions.

Gathering is getting the outside view. It’s about collecting valuable information that will inform your decision. In this case, you might want to find about various schools’ placement rates, gather details about programs and curriculum, or talk to professors and former students.

Hunting is getting the inside view. It’s about asking yourself what you really want, paying attention to how your body responds to each choice, listening to what your gut has to say, and honoring what is best for you. It is finding and following your intuition. Ultimately, I encourage you to gather all the information you need and then go to your intuition for the final answer.

Key questions to ask yourself are:
• What does the outside view tell me? In other words, what information do I need to gather to get a fully informed outside view?
• And, what does the inside view tell me? In what direction is my inner guidance calling me?

I also invite you to write a list of your own hunting and gathering questions to help you find the best decision for you.

Second, the Gates:

On our hero’s journey through life, we come to many gates or moments at which we need to say “yes” to one choice and “no” to another. To pass through a gate, we must pay a price. If all choices speak to you or none of them are quite perfect, you’ll likely need to let go of something to make your decision.

For example, will you need to let go of your current home and move to a new city? Or, will you need to let go of the excitement of a program in a new place so that you can stay at home? Or, maybe you’ll need to let go of something else.

As you examine each option, ask yourself, “What price would I need to pay to say ‘yes’ to that choice?” Getting clear on what you’d need to let go of will help to give you some of the information you need to make the best decision.

What helps you when making big decisions? I’d love to hear (below!) what comes up for you as you read this article and any tips you might have for our community around making big decisions.

And, if you’re facing a big decision and feel super stuck, I invite you to check out our professional coaching programs and explore the possibility of receiving support.

I wish you all the best in making your next big decision!

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