“What are some techniques you may have to discern your feelings and make a decision?”

I need help with a decision. I may be offered a relocation with my company, and I’m trying to get a feeling for if I want to go or not. I have plenty of info about the city, lifestyle, real estate, etc. to consider. What I’m having trouble is getting to what I really want to do. Normally, when I’m faced with decisions like this, I have a gut feeling, which may be weaker or stronger, leaning in one direction or another. The weird part with this decision is that I’m not leaning one way or another, or if I am, I’m doing a good job of fooling myself into thinking I’m not. What are some techniques you may have ever used to discern your feelings?

Everyone usually suggests you start with a Pro and Con list. It is a good start. But what most people don’t do is the key next step: prioritize. This is where the answer will become much more obvious.

Not every item on a Pro and Con list has the same weight. 10 weaksauce Pros don’t outweigh a truly significant Con.

Example: A great job in a fantastic town 1,000 miles away from a child you have partial custody of? A younger child probably means you don’t leave. But if the child is an adult, off you’d go.

So what you need to do clear some time to make your lists, brainstorming every possibility of every significance, no matter how trivial. “Will have to find new hairdresser.” “Will be able to go to the beach at least one day a month.” This will loosen up your head.

Then you prioritize. Keep it simple: 3 levels. Level 1 priorities should be only a very few. Level 2, maybe a handful. Everything else is Level 3. Assign every item on the lists a level, then rewrite the lists for clarity (rewriting all the many items at Level 3 is probably unnecessary). I do suggest doing this in longhand on a nice big piece of paper. The mind works a little different with a pen in hand, and the visual presentation is also very illuminating.

This will help you find your internal feelings.

Next you need to consider how your move may affect the important people in your life. Ask them. Discuss how you would stay in touch and who would want to visit — or would they just expect you to come back and visit them? How dependent are they on your physical proximity (are you a caregiver)?

Consider the job carefully, of course, but also your long-term prospects with the company. Is this a favor you are doing them, or do you see big benefits? Would you company be willing to re-relocate you after a period of time if the changes is unsuccessful?

Finally, as you do your research, try to be mindful of your moods and reactions.

Are you looking for ways to justify it? “Oh, Poughkeepsie is only 75 miles from NYC! It seems to have some culture, too. But it’s not too far from NYC. I guess.”

Or are you looking into all the exciting opportunities you’ll now have. “Damn, that Shawangunk Ridge has some of the best natural climbing faces in the Northeast! I will meet a bunch of people who are into outdoor recreation! I can’t wait to hit those boulders and stuff!”

Major difference — you may have a gut feeling but you aren’t feeling it the same way you usually do. Sometimes our brains work around those instincts and hide them.

Aside from the lists, I can’t really offer techniques. But communication, interpersonal and intrapersonal, is really the only way to divine the decision. Even if this relo doesn’t come to pass, it doesn’t hurt to do a little checking in to see where things are in your life. Be conscious.

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About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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