4 Questions You Absolutely Must Ask Before Making Any Hard Decision

Photo: Anna Shvets | Canva
friends hugging each other

If you've ever been stuck in a hard place, wondering about the right thing or the best thing to do, it helps to shift perspectives.

I'm especially talking to those who have a hard time taking care of themselves, like young women who devote their time to tiny people with tiny needs and feel a real loss of identity. It can be hard to know the best thing to do for you, outside of your responsibilities as a wife and mother.

And by you, I mean me, because this has pretty much been my life lately. Wrestling with hard choices, trying to find my own needs, and defining my boundaries in marriage and life. These all require me to look at my life from a zoomed-out lens — you know, the whole forest-for-the-trees thing.

But it doesn't have to be tough marriage challenges. It might be career dilemmas, toxic friendships, difficulty deciding on a major and planning a future. Anything that leaves us at the end of one rope, wondering if we need to swing to a different one, and in which direction.

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Here are 4 questions you absolutely must ask before making any hard decision:

1. What advice would I give to someone I love?

In an ideal world of healthy minds and open hearts, we would love ourselves as much as we love our children and our husbands. But if the self-love stuff feels counter-intuitive, try looking at the situations from a different view:

What if someone I love was in this situation — like my sister, my best friend, or my mother?

Would I want that person to be in this situation?

What advice would I have for her?

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2. What would I want my children to do?

For me, it's especially obvious when I look through a motherly lens. My son is watching me, absorbing my behaviors and choices as his "normal" programming. What kind of example do I want to set? What would I want my son to do in this situation?

When I can think, "What would I want Noah to do?" I can clearly see how to practice what I preach and be my best self.

3. If I were the lead character in a story, what would that character do? BE THE HEROINE.

If your life was a book or movie, and you were watching it play out as an observer, what would your character do next? Your life is a mess and you've been sideswiped by challenges and obstacles (like pretty much any character) — so now what?

What makes a better story? A story you'd be proud to tell others? What would the HEROINE — a strong, brave, INTERESTING heroine — do in your situation?

What's the next chapter?

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4. Are you making this choice out of love or fear?

Dig. Analyze. The answer might surprise you.

"The heart is like a garden: It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?"
— Jack Kornfield

Are you focused on what you'll gain or what you'll lose?

Are you motivated by inspiration of possibilities or by fear of the unknown? Fear of change? Fear of failure?

Are you staying in a relationship out of love for your partner/child/self or for fear of letting go?

(This is a good question to ask in quiet meditation.)

Love moves us forward and fills up our hearts. Fear keeps us stagnant and unhappy.

That's not to say these questions make the hard choices easy or that we'll immediately know what to do. But by ever-so-slightly shifting our perspectives, we can start moving in one direction or the other.

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Michelle Horton is a freelance writer and social media specialist who founded the website Early Mama. She writes about advocacy, motherhood, and relationships.