How to Make a Major Life Decision

1. Embrace your fears

Sometimes you must identify what you fear and then proceed in that direction. In my case, accepting the job would have been the safe, easy thing to do on a short-term basis. Saying no to something I knew I only wanted for the wrong reasons was the riskier choice. But I’m convinced it’s where the real opportunity lies.

 2. Analyze your tone

When I listened to the voice in my head telling me to accept the fellowship, I heard empty justification. When I listened to the voice telling me to say no, I heard sincere conviction. Listen to the quality of your thoughts when decision-making — sometimes, it’s just as important as the content.

3. Cultivate an “abundance mentality”

We’re taught there are never enough jobs, resources, money, time and space. Instead of succumbing to this scarcity-driven mindset, tell yourself: “If I work as hard to secure the next opportunity as I did for this one, I’m bound to be successful.” Hear that? Bound to be successful. Where there’s one opportunity, a dozen more await.

4. Monitor your physical reactions

When I read the email offering me the fellowship, I immediately began to process it on an intellectual level. But then I took a step back to pay attention to the sensations in my body, an idea I learned in meditation. As it turns out, my mind was terribly confused, but my body had already given a clear answer.

When I thought about accepting the offer, all the muscles in my body became tense, but when I imagined saying no, I felt a physical wave of relief. By pausing to listen to the body, we can tap into our subconscious instincts about life.

5. Try meditation

For me, this involved 10 days of intense, silent meditation in rural India. But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world for the same effects. Instead, set aside a quiet meditation space where you can listen to your heart. What does it communicate when it’s not panicked and inundated with other people’s ideas?

Temporarily removing yourself from all external stimuli and ideas of who you should be and what you should do allows you to access your own values and take ownership of the direction you want your life to take.

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