When you hit a crossroad in life, it’s a big deal. Turn left and your life will move in an entirely different direction than if you turn right. Crossroad decisions look like, do I move to a new city? Buy a house? Change careers? Start college or get a job? Have another child? Get married? Divorced?
Crossroad decisions aren’t only confusing, they’re hard. They’re hard because they involve life-altering choices, and one or more of those choices are equally good, desirable, or maybe even painful.
I seem to be surrounded these days by people who’re standing at a crossroad. Sometimes a crossroad comes upon us a a natural part of life. Sometimes it’s forced upon us by uncontrollable circumstances. It doesn’t really matter how you’ve arrived at a crossroad. What matters is how you break through to what’s next in your life. A wise decision is needed.
Such a breakthrough is a complex process. Here’re a few perspectives I’ve been sharing with my clients:
1. Seek Wise Counsel
Crossroad decisions are cloaked in emotion. If you’re in this place, your mind is swimming in doubt. It’s difficult to clearly see your options. Both roads may seem murky and dark.
Seek wise counsel from someone who can be objective. Maybe it’s a trusted family member or colleague, a master mind group, coach, or even a therapist.
Whomever you choose to confide in, remember that their advice is only part of the process. You are gathering data. You don’t want to get further confused by too many voices. One or two clear-minded perspectives will help you discern which road to take.
2. Pay Attention to Your Passion, Talent, and Skills
It’s easy to lose sight of your strengths and what you’re passionate about when your mind is clouded with uncertainty.
Let me quickly add that when people find themselves at a crossroad, it’s often because they’re shifting into a new and hopefully better phase of life. In my work, I often discuss this natural progression with my clients in the context of developmental stages.
This is an important element to consider because ongoing research tells us that whenever people grow into a new developmental stage, they often experience emotions of loss, confusion, overwhelm, a need to shed relationships or change careers, or maybe even move across country.
While all of these aspects of developmental progression are important, they add to the confusion and sense of overwhelm. You want to take the time to fully examine what you’re passionate about in life and how that passion is expressed via your talents and skills. Such examination will help you rediscover who you are and which direction to take.
If you’re reinventing yourself, for example, it’s important to know how to take your best self into this next phase of life.
Pay attention to whom you’ve been, and it will help you grow into whom you’re yet to become.
3. Embrace the Idea of Change
If you’ve done the hard work outlined above and you’re finding yourself still stuck, it’s probably because you’re resisting change. Remember, what you resist will persist. In other words, resist change and you’re guaranteed to remain stuck.
Embrace the idea of change, and watch what happens. Yes, change can be scary. But, it can also be a doorway into an entirely new way of life.
I find that when my clients are resisting change, it’s because they fear the unknown. It’s like staring at three poorly wrapped boxes wondering what’s inside. Do the hard work of discovery, remove the lid, and look inward. Once you have the information, change is less frightening.
The battle within means that this change you’re considering is important. Sometimes change requires a breakdown of ego. Our sense of self and our worldview may need to change before we can break through to the other side.
4. Don’t Rush the Process
We live in a world of immediate response and instant gratification. I find that most of my clients put a lot of pressure on themselves to make crossroad choices immediately.
When you reach a crossroad in life, don’t try to rush through the process. If you can put off a decision for a bit, give yourself that option. You can continue to gather advice and information, but in the meantime, BE STILL.
Settle down in your cage. Allow the muddied road to tighten, and you’ll find the path clear.
Crossroad choices in life are never easy. Map out a process that suits your style of decision-making, follow the few simple guidelines I’ve suggested, maybe journal your thoughts along the journey, and watch the neon arrow point the way.
When it comes time to make the decision, the decision will have been made.