Making Great Choices – With Confidence

Finding Your Starting Point: Identifying What is Meaningful to You

There is something about this photo that I like.  Even though it’s a solitary scene, it seems to call out to me, like a personal invitation.  The little red boat sits at the end of a railed, clear path next to the landing, waiting to take me wherever I want to go.

There are many times in life when a challenge, a chance, or an opportunity, like the little red boat, will present itself.  Maybe it comes in the form of a possible new job or new relationship, or instead as a chance to confront a problem, to achieve a personal goal or to deal with a change.  As part of the human condition, it is inevitable that we will experience these moments from time to time. We may feel excited to try something new, or feel anxious or worried that we may not be up to the challenge.  We may feel both excited and anxious at the same time! We want to know that we are making the “right” choice.  The question is this:  when faced with a challenge, a chance, or an opportunity, do you choose to take it on, or do you let it go?

Maybe in the past you’ve done both.  There have been times when you’ve seized a chance, and other times when you’ve avoided a challenge.  Maybe, in that moment, you made the best possible choice for the circumstances, or maybe you harbor regret that you didn’t act.  So how do you decide the best way to proceed the next time (there will be a next time) you are presented with a choice?

One approach you can take is to “interview” yourself.  Take the time to ask yourself these questions and answer them thoughtfully.  You may want to reflect on just one or two at a time.  By doing this, you allow yourself to fully explore your thoughts and feelings in a relaxed way, keeping stressful emotions at bay:

1. What do I want to accomplish? And why?

(Do I want to: attain, achieve, communicate, overcome, take control, etc.?)      

2. What will it cost me?

(What do I have to gain or lose?  What will happen if I do or don’t act?)

3. If I am hesitant, what is stopping me from acting?

(Do I have: fear of failure or rejection?  feelings of not being worthy or deserving?  fear of others’ criticism?  self-doubt?  awareness of red flags to a potential problem?)

4. What do I have to do to be successful?

(Will I need to do research, planning and preparing?  What do I already know and what do I need to find out?  Who or what can be a resource or a support to me?)

5. How do I think I will I feel if I accomplish it?

(Might I feel: happy, proud, relieved, liberated, content, satisfied, sad, angry, apathetic, etc.?)

Once you’ve asked and reflectively answered these questions, you will have created a starting point and a guide to help you to discern the best course to take.  Although you needn’t do so, writing the answers may provide you with a clear and tangible way to “see” what making a particular choice may truly mean to you, and show you a way to take the next step.

Up Next: Part 2: Taking The Next Step – Charting A Course

Red Boat Photo courtesy of

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