The longer you’re on earth, the more big decisions you have to make. Between choosing a college, selecting a major, deciding between job opportunities, determining which personal and professional relationships to invest in or divest, and so much more, a tough choice is always on the horizon. But difficult as they may be, big decisions can be made easier if you do one simple thing: be honest with yourself.
Be honest about what you want
Weird as it may seem, you’re not the only one who wants things for you. Your parents, partner, friends, and other connections may all have secret—or not so secret—things they want for you too. Yet even if others have your best interest in mind, they’re desires for you likely won’t always align with your desires for yourself. And the only way to know whether they do or not is to be honest with yourself about what you want.
Maybe you do want to go to your dad’s alma mater. Maybe you do want to pass on an internship and spend the summer travelling the world with your best friend instead. Then again, perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you want to go to that school overseas, or take on two internships and save your money. Either way, if you don’t take time to sit and identify what you want, it will be easy to make a decision in the short-term that does more harm than good in the long term.
Of course, what you want isn’t always what you need. How do you know when that’s the case? Again, you have to be honest with yourself. Just about something else.
Be honest about why you want what you want
Once you’ve been honest about what you want, it’s important to go a step further and be honest about why you want what you want. To be honest about your motivation.
The motivation behind a desire can make all the difference in the world when it comes to choosing whether to pursue this want. As an example, let’s say you want to go to grad school and are trying to decide if it’s worth the time, energy, and money. If the reason you want to go back to school is to gain the knowledge and degree necessary to advance in your career (and elevate your paycheck), grad school may well be worth it. But if the reason you want to go back to school is to “keep up” with your peers or to simply be productive with your free time, grad school might not be the most optimal choice.
Knowing your motivation can help you decide if what you want is genuinely what you need. And even in cases where your want isn’t a need, knowing why you want what you want can help you decide on next steps.
Big decisions are hard. But they don’t always have to be as hard as we make them out to be. So long as you’re honest with yourself, hard choices can be made with greater ease.