Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Wrestle with a Difficult Decision

From The Art of Manliness:
When faced with a big question where you’re not sure what to do, find your answer by following the pattern of discovery that York laid out:

1. Sort through your motivations.
Before York could even consider what he needed to do, he had to make sure he honestly understood the motivations that had created the dilemma in the first place and were driving him towards each option. He knew he wasn’t scared of violence, and when he looked within he didn’t find that he feared being killed or resented having to leave his old life behind. He could truthfully say that it really was a matter of his faith conflicting with his patriotism.

Oftentimes, we come up with false reasons for settling on certain options. We say that a path just isn’t practical, when we’re really worried about disappointing our parents. We cherry-pick a religious justification as a reason for not doing something, when really we’re just scared to do it or can’t bear to put the responsibility for the decision on ourselves. But before we can choose between different options, we need to honestly understand and assess why we’ve chosen those possible paths in the first place.

2. Ask others for advice.
The first thing York did was to seek counsel about his dilemma from his pastor and mentor. But had he stopped there, with the man who headed the church that preached that war was wrong, his perspective wouldn’t have been very balanced. Instead, he also discussed the issue with Major Buxton, a man who had reconciled his faith with a professional military career. This gave York a look at both sides of the coin.

As you seek an answer to a difficult question, try to gather as much information about the situation and your options as you can. You want to make as informed a decision as possible. One part of this “research” phase is asking for feedback from friends, family, and mentors. They may have a perspective to share that you hadn’t thought of and can help you see your options and beliefs in a different light. If you can find someone to talk to who has been through a very similar situation, all the better. Other people can’t ultimately tell you what to do (and don’t let them – notice that York ultimately made the decision on his own), but they can add greatly to your understanding of the pros and cons and likely consequences of your decision, and what other people might do if they were in your shoes.

3. Study the question out.
Besides asking others for advice, the other part of the information-gathering phase is to study the question as much as possible. This may mean reading your scriptures like York did, and as well as reading the biographies of men who came to the same kind of crossroads. You may want to tuck into a treatise of philosophy, or read up on the city you’re thinking of moving to. If you’re grappling with a medical question, this will mean not only talking to your doctor, but getting a second opinion, and perhaps looking over research studies that have been done on the subject as well. Do your part to gather all of the relevant information available to you so that you can be sure you are making a completely informed decision.

4. Ponder what you have learned.
York spent hours walking through the woods and mulling over what he had studied and what others had shared with him. Do likewise. As you gather as much information about your different options as you can, take time to ponder what you’ve learned. When you read something or talk to someone, what leaves you feeling empty and confused? What feels like it illuminates your mind or makes your heart swell?

5. Pray/meditate in solitude to make the decision.
Even after months of talking it over, pondering, studying, and praying, York felt no clearer about what to do than when his draft card first arrived in the mail. This is typical of big decisions. The research phase of the process may make you better informed, but it won’t necessarily illuminate the right answer in neon lights. For this reason, people often get stuck in the information-gathering phase, both hoping that talking to just one more person will suddenly make things crystal clear, and also fearing to finally pull the trigger.

But once you’ve thoroughly examined the question from all sides, the research phase must come to an end. It’s time to make a decision.

Once you’re ready to receive your answer, you would be well served to follow York’s example of finding a place of quiet and solitude where you won’t be interrupted and can be alone with your thoughts. The stillness of nature provides a perfect setting. (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

....and I end up still making the wrong decision. But, who knows, the other decision could turn out to be more wrong!!