Ever find yourself paralyzed when facing a difficult choice? Ever dive into something without thinking about possible consequences? Making conscious choices can be hard work. How can you make the best choice, for yourself, given the givens? Here are some things to think about.


Accept the Givens. Sometimes we want to bargain. For example, you may want your partner to change so you don’t have to face the difficult choice between staying in the relationship, accepting her and loving her as she is, or ending the relationship. Don’t get stuck in “If only….”


Think about your desired outcome. If we don’t know what we want out of life, we have no guidelines for making choices. Thinking about outcome includes looking at the big picture of what you want to create in your life, and it involves looking at the outcome you desire in the specific circumstance you are facing.


Think of the various means by which you might achieve your desired outcome. If you are stuck between two choices sometimes it is helpful to make yourself create a third choice, either a synthesis of the other two, or a creative, even absurd, other possibility.


Take a hard look at potential consequences. What are the possible benefits and what are the possible costs? This requires courage and a deep honesty. You want to take the trip, but the cost will deplete your savings account. Will the trip refresh you enough so that you can come back, work harder and replace the income? Are there other areas in which you could cut costs? Do you have a saving plan and goal and to what extent have you been following that plan and meeting that goal? What would happen if you had an unexpected expense and no savings? Choices bring consequences, but consequences are most often mixed, neither all positive or all negative. There is loss in any choice because choosing one experience closes the door on other experiences. Decide what set of consequences, known and potential, you feel most able to live with.


Check your values. Taking a new class sounds interesting, but it will take away from the exercise program you committed to. The dishes need to be washed, but your child needs your attention. The new job would mean more money but less free time. What is important to you?


Check in with your heart. I remember once when considering which house to buy, I make a detailed chart comparing five houses. One house clearly made the most sense, but another made my heart sing. I chose the one that made my heart sing and although I only lived in it for two years, I am glad I chose as I did.


Check with the Divine. Seek guidance from God/Goddess/Universe/Higher Power—by whatever name and approach you use. Seeking help from the Universe works best if you have developed a spiritual practice. Guidance is more available and clearer in the context of an ongoing and carefully tended relationship with your higher power. What is your purpose in this life? What is calling you? How does a given choice further your purpose and calling? How does it distract from it?


Commit to living without regrets, or at least to living without calling your choices “mistakes” and beating up on yourself. You can’t foresee all possible consequences. You can’t always make things come out the way you want. You can only make the best decision you can make with the best information you can gather and then have the courage and maturity to live with what happens.

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