Have you ever had to make an important life choice but didn’t feel 100% confident about what you should do? Your head says go one way but something about it doesn’t feel right.
That happened to a friend of mine recently. She had (still has) a chance to do something she always thought she’d do one day, but she had doubts about whether she should do it.
So she reached out to her Facebook friends. She kept it simple and said she had an opportunity to pursue a PhD and asked for thoughts on the matter. I figured, She wants to know if it’s a good idea. Should she do it?
I wanted to show my support and tell her that if she wants to do it, go do it. Yes! Absolutely!
But that sounded too simple.
It got me thinking: Is she sure this is what she really wants to do? I know from experience that we can talk ourselves into (or out of) things by coming up with “reasons” we should (or shouldn’t) do them. And sometimes we willingly go against what we know at our core.
Was she going through something similar?
I wanted to tell her about this one time (there have been a few biggees) I talked myself into doing something I knew I didn’t really want to do. But my story was too long to type out, so I didn’t go into it. Instead, I left a comment that said (essentially): Follow your intuition.
That seemed very Kumbaya of me, so I decided to call her to talk it out.
About 5 years ago I was a classroom teacher and felt restless, like there was something else I should be doing. A friend told me about an 18-month Masters in Library Science program that offered grant money to help pay for tuition. She and I could complete the program together and it was almost entirely online.
Even though there were good reasons for me to do it, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. I knew I shouldn’t do it, that I should say no. But I talked myself into it and…
Before I knew it I had finished my first semester.
Intuition vs. Validation
My point to my friend who was considering the PhD program was this: You know what you should do. No amount of reasoning for or against the program will change that. It’s up to you to listen to that voice inside that says either:
You’re all in without reservation or it sounds good but something about it doesn’t feel quite right and that means I shouldn’t do it. Not now, at least.
She knew exactly what I was talking about. And as we talked it out, we both wondered why we don’t trust our own intuition to do what we know is best for us.
We agreed that even though we know what’s best, we tend to want validation from others. We want to make sure that what we’ve decided is okay with everyone. Certainly men do it too, don’t they?
Wanting that validation (or in some cases permission) makes it difficult to follow your intuition and do what you know you need to do.
We can talk ourselves out of things, and we can talk ourselves into things – relationships, jobs, marriages, career paths, masters programs – That we know aren’t right for us.
Is it a lack of courage that causes us to ignore our intuition? Maybe lack of confidence?
Maybe it’s that we don’t know if or when we’ll get another chance. The future is uncertain.
But what is possible when we’re willing to do what we know we should do and act on our intuition.
How do you know for sure what you should do?
- Journaling about your options can help clarify confusion.
- Talking it out can help too, not to get validation or permission to act one way or another, but to help you tune in to your best next step.
Even when you know for sure what you must do, it can be difficult to do it.
Do your due diligence, complete your research, and explore your options, then let your intuition lead you to your best course of action.
Trust what you already know. You’re your best expert.
Thanks to my friend N. P. for allowing me to share our conversation in this post.