Making a decision with confidence: 5 key questions to ask in a transitionAug 14, 2019
Life is a constant state of change, isn’t it? Sure, there are big phases—from childhood to adulthood, single to married, carefree to having children (How would you have phrased that one?). But even day-to-day, I struggle to find constancy in life. Even now that my kids are in school full-time, the routine that I long for seems to be ever elusive. We might have a few days that go as planned, but then someone is sick or a snow day hits. My dad’s surgery and subsequent complications threw my routine for a loop. Spring Break is coming. The only constant is change.
This morning as I sat down to look over my blog schedule for the next few months, I was met with blank pages. Though I usually try to plan months in advance, the upheaval of the past few months has eaten away my built-up reserves. I found myself faced with a big question wrapped in two small words: Now what?
Now what? I have a few hours to sit and work, so how do I spend them? Do I make a plan for the next three months? Do I forget planning ahead and just focus on writing something to get me through this week? Or do I admit that life is too hectic right now and just walk away for a while?
Are you facing a transition in your life? Knowing when to say “yes” and “no” is a skill of Olympic proportions. And facing the changes that accompany our decisions is daunting. Although I don’t love change, I have learned that it is a necessary—and useful—part of life. Over time, I have developed some tools to help me make decisions and ease the pain of the process. One of the key components to making a decision is to ask yourself a few key questions.
How can I honor God with this?
Changes and decisions give us an opportunity to let God’s light shine. Sometimes we get to approach a decision with prayer and by seeking wisdom. At other times, the decision is made for us, and the only control we have is over our own attitude. Either way, seeking to honor God in every transition allows us to approach it from a place of humility and grace.
Do I need to let go or fight harder?
This is always an interesting crossroads. When should we fight for something, and when should we just let it go? I wish I could give you a blanket formula for this. But just remember that few things in life are forever. The decision you make today doesn’t have to be the last decision you make on this. If you decide to keep pushing, give yourself some parameters—a timeline or checkpoint, a place where you can stop and reevaluate. If you walk away, know that you can revisit this later. You don’t have to do or decide everything now.
Where is my focus?
Change is an opportunity often disguised as an inconvenience. When faced with a tough decision, checking your focus is a great place to start. If you are focused on what other people might think or the hassle, it’s time to take a step back and reassess.
Does this fit with my priorities?
In making any decision, it helps to have a set list of priorities to use as a filter. Having a personal mission statement can be super helpful in this. If you don’t have something like that, start by just naming the top two or three priorities and asking yourself how this decision fits with them. For example, my top three might be:
- God. Does this honor God? Does it fit with who He has created me to be? Is it something He is leading me into?
- Family. Will this strengthen my relationship with my husband and/or children? Will it take AWAY from my time with my family? Will it hinder my ability to be the wife and mom they need?
- Ministry. Does this fit with the message I am trying to convey? Is this an extension of my current ministry, or is it something completely new and different? If it’s new and different, do I need to let go of something else in order to take this on?
Do I need to fill in all the blanks?
Sometimes we see blank space in our calendars and feel the need to fill them in. A weekly meeting on Tuesdays? Well, I don’t have anything scheduled then, so sure! But do we really need every space filled? Intentionally building in a little margin saves our sanity. Margin allows us to handle the unexpected things—from a kid with a fever to a flat tire to a friend in need of connection—with a measure of grace and peace.
This is especially true when a transition means something is coming to an end. Deciding to leave a volunteer position or leave a group/club can leave us with chunks of time—and even space in our brains—that we aren’t used to. The temptation may be to immediately fill them with something new, but wait. Breathe. Margin can feel unusual at first, like a baby feeling grass under her toes for the first time. We want to draw back, return to the familiar. But maybe now is the time to just take in the new sensation, savor it, adjust to it. It’s OK to leave some blanks.
Change isn’t easy—but then again, few things worth having are easy. Just take a deep breath, walk yourself through these questions, and then take the next step forward. And then the next step after that. You’ve got this.
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