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I want to start a new life as a chef in San Francisco - I am in emotional turmoil. How do I know I am making the right decision?


heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
Carpe diem.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
To be happy.
Question
I am graduating from college on May 5th. I have a good job working at a news station and have lots of friends. At the end of May I am packing my bags with a one way ticket in hand and heading off to San Francisco. I will be living with my aunt for free. I am going out there because

1.) I have always loved San Francisco
2.) My aunt is a gourmet chef and I would love to become one as well.

I am scared shitless (pardon my French) - I keep second guessing myself and saying that I don't really want to be a chef and why am I leaving when everything is fine here. I know though if I don't leave I will regret it deeply.

I guess my question is how do I know that I am making the right decisions? What if I fail miserably and I end up coming back home (to Alabama). What if being a chef isn't something I really want to do? I know I am not going to have any friends for a long time and that is going to drive me crazy because I believe that I am a very social person. Is it normal for someone who is about to make life changes to feel this way?

Wallace's reply
Wallace
I am so glad you have asked this question because in asking it you have raised a very important question which is: how do I know when I am making the right decision? Making the right decision at a major crossroads in life is very important skill to master - a skill that becomes increasingly important with age because as we grow older we have we have less and less time to recover from serious mistakes. At such crossroads it is quite normal for us to feel a host of emotions that can include the extremes of elation and fear and it is vital that we see past our erratic emotional reactions so that we can discern the correct path.

To make the correct decision we need to learn to tune in to inner guidance. Our inner guidance is always there to direct our lives but we do need to surrender the erratic will and mood swings of our ego by deferring to this quiet inner knowing. So how do we learn to tune to inner guidance when faced with a major decision? Here are my ten top tips you can use to intuit your answer.

Ten Top Tips on Making Life Changing Decisions

  1. Learn about the "environment" around the decision
  2. Reframe the "environment" of your decision if necessary
  3. If in doubt move in the direction the decision implies
  4. Sense whether your "energy" is following the decision
  5. Nurture time and space for quiet reflection
  6. Share your thoughts around making the decision with trusted friends
  7. Sense whether or not you have the patience and persistence to see the decision through
  8. Discern deep spiritual peace from superficial emotional fear and excitement when contemplating your decision
  9. Wait until you have a feeling of rightness before proceeding to full commitment to your decision
  10. Once you have that sense of rightness, don't hesitate any longer - commit to the decision.

Learn about the "environment" around the decision
You say you want to be a chef, but are not sure. Help out in a local restaurant. By doing this get a hands on feel for what it's like to work in a kitchen. Go without seeing so much of your friends for a while. See if you can adapt. Go for a weekend break in San Francisco and stay with your aunt. See if you would feel comfortable with the reality of living there and check that she feels comfortable having you as well. (You may have been to your aunt's in San Francisco before, but go and stay with her with the particular intention of sensing if you would like to live there).

Reframe the "environment" of your decision if necessary
Be open to changing your perception of how this decision might work out in practice. For example by working in a local restaurant you may conclude that you like working in a kitchen but only with a particular kind of chef. By staying with your aunt in San Francisco you may discover that you love San Francisco but would only want to stay with your aunt for a month until you get a place of your own - maybe while there you identify a neighborhood you feel drawn to live in and feel surprisingly at home there. These are all signals as to how you can reframe the environment of your decision and in doing this become more comfortable with the idea of committing to the move.

If in doubt move in the direction the decision implies
Act as if you are going to commit to the decision to move but always be alert with an inner listening for signs and guidance that this is not the right direction for you. For example, throw a goodbye party for all your friends in Alabama and check as you are organizing the party and then give the party that your inner direction is still leading you forward in the direction of making the move.

Sense whether your "energy" is following the decision
As you move in the direction of the decision check inwardly to make sure a buoyant energy is still there carrying you onward. You may need to work your way past some superficial fear and anxiety, but if it is the right decision there will be an inner energy which will carry you through.

Nurture time and space for quiet reflection
Vary moves toward going in the direction of your decision with periods of stillness and quiet. These quiet times help you absorb and interpret your innermost feelings that will arise as you move in the direction of the decision. Think of moving toward the decision as being like a spiral where you return to the same patch of ground with each circular movement but each time you do so you are nearer the center where the decision is made.

Share your thoughts around making the decision with trusted friends
Inner guidance, if true, is usually inclined toward harmony, not only in the effects the decision has on yourself but on its effects on those people closest to you who have your best interests at heart. If there is a lot of disharmony being created in people who love and care about you by moving in the direction of your decision, take the time to find out why before proceeding. To find out why open honest direct conversation with those effected.

Sense whether or not you have the patience and persistence to see the decision through
As you move closer to the center of the spiral by visiting the same questions over again, yet seeing these questions each time from a slightly clearer perspective, sense whether or not you have the patience and persistence to see this decision through. Do you feel you have the energy to make the move, find a job, make new friends, etc. Are you willing to deal with all these issues as they arise, one step at a time? If you are not this may not be the right direction for you at this moment.

Discern deep spiritual peace from superficial emotional fear and excitement when contemplating your decision
As you advance in the direction of your decision, a deep spiritual peace will emerge and gradually replace the superficial fears and excitements around making this decision. The emergence of this sense of peace indicates that you are near to reaching the right decision. To draw out this deep sense of peace, pray and meditate on your decision and, most important of all, hand the decision over to God who guides you, by asking Him to make the right decision clear. As you do this do not worry about the consequences of the decision, but nurture that sense of inner peace as your most reliable guide.

Wait until you have a feeling of rightness before proceeding to full commitment to your decision
There will come a time when you enter into the still calm space in the center of the spiral. You will know you have arrived there because your decision will have the unmistakable feeling of rightness accompanied by feelings of peace and calm.

Once you have that sense of rightness, don't hesitate any longer - commit to the decision
Do not act before receiving that sense of inner calm and rightness around your decision - and do not delay once you have received it. Act on your decision with confidence.

I trust the above guidelines will help you find that sense of rightness so that you know you are making the right decision. Do not give the word failure too much power. Rather focus on what you need to grow and develop into the amazing person you are becoming and remember that God is always there within your Heart guiding you.

Further Help and Resources
I feel sure my book Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off would be a great comfort and help. It provides you with a great deal of practical help on how to discern your inner guidance from all the hurly burley in your mind.

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