How are the choices and decisions you’re making affecting you and your partner? Try answering this simple but revealing list of questions:
- Are your choices (given your circumstances) sound, healthy, and beneficial to your well-being?
- Do your judgments come from positive thoughts?
- Do these resolutions contribute to a better quality of life for you?
Individual Choices Affecting Life
Are you currently facing circumstances of a tall magnitude? Perhaps you are not right now, but you foresee a time in the future when you could find yourself making choices such as these. Give yourself time to ponder what you might do.
When making a life choice, evaluate the consequence of your actions. Envision what life will be like once the change has been made. Talk to other people who have done what you are intending to do, to find out their viewpoint. They can help you by showing you pitfalls to avoid.
Don’t allow yourself to make decisions that would lead to a bad end for you. Newspapers are full of stories about people who made poor choices, and you can learn from their mistakes. Even good people can be faced with tragedy, but there is no advantage to inviting trouble. Think of life’s tumultuous decisions as if you are kayaking through river rapids in the Himalayas. Trust in your chosen faith, and steer away from the rocks.
Feel good about who you are. Do the best you can, each day, with what you have. Recognize choices aren’t singular events, but part of a continuum that waxes and wanes with every decision you make. Growing up is a process that follows us all the way through life.
Sometimes making good choices appears to be difficult and painful. Thus we might want to avoid making these hard decisions. No one likes to feel discomfort, so often we accept the status quo rather than tough it out and make the adjustments necessary for a more fulfilling life. Did you know that even “not to decide” is to decide?
What will happen if you keep making poor choices, or let life pass you by without your response? Only by making healthy choices will you be able to open the door to new experiences and personal growth. Remember the lyric from the song “Closing Time,” that every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.
Couples Coming to Grips with Change
Sometimes the choices we face as a couple can be so big that our decisions will make our lives together totally different. For example, young couples are faced with the decision about when the best time is to start a family. In another example, those families who experience a layoff must decide whether or not to uproot away from friends and family in search of employment elsewhere. Some families must figure out whether or not they should be caretakers of their parents, instead of placing their parents in a rest home.
As you can imagine, the answers to each of these life questions considerably impact the relationship of a couple, creating a new dynamic. When this is the case, two people are affected. This type of decision can be difficult to navigate, because both people need to feel fulfilled, satisfied, and happy.
Couples facing life choices can consider the issue from several angles:
- Consider the outcome you want. Who will be affected most by it?
- Can you apply the choice and expect it will lead to good changes for everyone concerned?
- Have you discussed the scope of possible choices together? Are you both of the same mind about it?
- Have you evaluated long-term situations that your choices will impact? How will others be affected by what you decide, positively and negatively?
- Do you feel like making a choice impulsively or, instead, making your decision with serious evaluation?
- Are you aware of the implication your choices will have on family and friends?
- Does your choice involve others being compromised by your action?
Making choices involves risk. This risk sometimes creates angst and confusion. But deciding in a clear way to take a more positive direction for your life will ultimately lead to less stress and increased happiness. Here’s an example of part of the problem-solving process, in which one of my clients started a list of positives and negatives to clarify her risk. Big business investors call this process “due diligence regarding risk mitigation.” In the counseling business, we call it common sense! As the story moves along, try out making a list of the positives and negatives for my client.
Mrs. Kelton was offered the opportunity for a job with a higher salary. Her current job allows her to work from home one day a week. When in the office, she can leave early to attend to family matters or activities. Her boss values her, and she excels in her position. The commute is long, but she can arrive and leave when traffic is lighter. She has been with her current employer for five years.
The new job would not allow Mrs. Kelton to work from home. She would be required to punch a clock. This position would be demanding, and it would often require a Saturday morning presence. It pays a higher salary, but the vacation offered is less time than the one she now enjoys. If Mrs. Kelton took the new job, her commute would be shorter and traffic would be no problem.
The new job would require her husband to assume more child care and household tasks, but the new salary would allow my client and her family to enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.
What to do? This couple had a lot of talking to do! But devising a list of positive and negatives is a good way to start making a logical decision. In this case, making the list led to the couple brainstorming other options for her current job. Eventually Mrs. Kelton put together a case for asking for a raise and increased responsibilities, which was accepted by her present employer.
For both decisions as an individual and as a couple, remember to focus on choices that are sound, healthy, and coming from positive thoughts. You are making a resolution for a better quality of life.