Where do you turn when you feel lost and in need of guidance? Guidance can be found in books and other sources of knowledge passed down to us through the ages, as well as in podcasts or videos recorded yesterday. We turn for guidance to our trusted friends and family members, along with teachers and mentors. Some of us look to the Divine when we’re in need of guidance. And we can also find guidance of a very powerful sort by looking inward—follow your heart, we’re told; “I felt it in my gut,” we confide.
For the big decisions we face in life, most of us will consult established sources of wisdom, as well as our own inner guidance. If something doesn’t feel right in your heart, it probably isn’t right. And conversely, if you know in your gut that a course of action is right for you, it probably will be, even if it means you’re straying far from the beaten path.
Most of my biggest decisions in life were not made with a logical thought process. I chose a path because it felt right, not because I had done a cost-benefit analysis of various options and figured out the ROI. When I became a journalist at age 16, I leaped in with eagerness, landed on my feet, and moved ahead surely. It felt right. When I started taking graduate courses, I initially started in an MFA/creative writing program, but backed out after just one semester—it didn’t feel right. Next I explored a Masters program in English literature, which was fine except that I wanted to explore more than just works written in English. So I went over to the Comparative Literature program, and bingo! I was hooked for the next decade as I worked on my MA and PhD and began to learn the art and craft of teaching undergraduates.
It was the same when it came to choosing a life partner. I went by trial and error, looking for someone who felt right. Nowadays we have a chance to do a lot more research on potential partners, via the online dating services with their questionnaires and matches. In my day, it was a matter of being open, and checking with inner guidance—how did it feel, being with this person? I certainly made some mistakes, getting myself into some sketchy and even potentially dangerous circumstances because I was not wary enough in my encounters with men. If we’re fortunate, as I was, to survive these mistakes, they can offer us a lot of guidance as we continue on our journey. I won’t make that mistake twice!
The month, focus on those moments in life when you came to a big fork in the road and had to make a decision. What sources of wisdom do you turn to when you’re not quite sure of which path to choose? How do you make your decisions? Understanding your own process of decision-making more fully can help you be more intentional and sure as you face the road ahead, with all its twists, turns and uncertainties.