Five tips on making big decisions

Recently I made the decision to walk away from my corporate career - a role in internal and external communications - and go “all in” on The Women’s Vault. Over the past nine months, I have been running The Women’s Vault as a “side hustle”, while my corporate job provided me with a stable income, holiday and sick pay and also fulfilment - I love what I do and I’ve done it for 15 years. 

But juggling two full-time jobs, alongside having a young child, has been immensely stressful and challenging. Following many hours deliberating my options, I have decided to join the unstable, but exciting, realm of being a business owner (in the knowledge that one in five  UK businesses fail). 

I started The Women’s Vault as a passion project; I wanted to see how I could help women to be confident and to juggle motherhood with their careers, and whether I could help corporate companies support their female workforce better, too. Having experienced the immense benefits of flexible working, yet faced the challenges of both negotiating it and adapting to it, I recognised an opportunity to support women looking for change in their working lives through more flexibility.

I didn’t know if it would succeed or fail and I still don’t. Some days that’s really scary, I can tell you! 

So having gone through the process of making a huge decision, as well as helping my clients with life-altering choices -  such as  applying for a new role, having another child, or changing careers - I thought it may help others if I shared a few tips on decision making.

Five  things to do when you need to make a big decision:

  1. Create as many options for yourself as possible, so that you have a “platter” of options. Brainstorm alternatives that you haven’t thought of. For example, you may be keen to change jobs, but are tied to a current role so you can receive mat leave pay - another option could be finding a new job and negotiating higher pay, therefore having a higher income over the entire year. Once you have multiple options, you are then in the strongest position to decide what’s best for you. If you only have limited options, you may be making a decision with scarcity and lack, instead of thinking with an abundant mindset. Read more about abundance mindsets here.
  2. Be careful who you talk to. Often when we are making decisions, we want to talk to others about it: our family, friends, colleagues, a mentor… the list is endless. The problem is that everyone will give you their advice and won’t always be neutral; you can quickly become overwhelmed by differing views. Ultimately, you have to live with your decision and you want it to be the right one for you. See point 3.
  3. Deep thinking time is crucial. Spend time on your own, go for walks outside in nature and don’t listen to music or podcasts. This deep thinking can’t be done in front of a computer or phone. Ask yourself questions like, “What’s important to me?”; “Is this decision in alignment with my values and purpose?”; “Am I trying to please anyone else with this decision?”; “Will this make me truly happy?”.
  4. Give yourself a timeframe. Often we have to make a decision in a specific timeframe, such as accepting or declining a job, but other times we don’t have a set timeframe and it can drag on. In fact, I know people who have been sitting on big decisions for years, and once they make them, they feel much happier, lighter and that the weight of the world is off their shoulders. Set a timeframe and stick to it.
  5. Listen to your gut. Your gut instinct will often tell you if you're making the right decision, or the wrong one. If for some reason you're hesitating, or holding back, then something isn't quite right for you. If you're going against your gut instinct and not listening to it, again you will have this "off" feeling in your stomach. When you've arrived at the right decision, you will feel incredibly calm, excited and possibly a bit nervous too! 

Remember, if you've made a decision and a few months down the track it's not the right one, then you can always go back to exploring other options. You don't have to save face. If it's not right, then it's not right, and life's too short not to be happy! 

Are you making a big life decision right now? I hope this list helps. If it does, drop me a line at oliviabath@thewomensvault.com. If you need support on making a big decision then fill in my Taster form here.

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