Using Past Lessons to Inform Big Life Choices

Making choices in life isn’t always easy. For some of us, the simple task of choosing a restaurant for dinner can be stressful. When it comes to even bigger life decisions like moving or taking on a new job, choices become increasingly complex. How do you simplify a decision when there are so many variables at play? Thanks to past life experience, you can tap into knowledge you’ve already acquired to make a clear, calm, and informed decision.

Mistakes Are Okay

The first (and arguably most important) thing to realize is that mistakes are okay. Really, they are. When making a big life choice, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the details of a situation. Overthinking a decision often leads us to worry about making the wrong one. When we make a mistake, it can be embarrassing and painful, but it’s this very discomfort that makes the experience so memorable.

When considering a big life decision, you might find your mind referring back to a time when you made the wrong choice. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay. We’re all human and we all make mistakes - a lot of them. That’s how we grow.

Tapping Into Your Experiences

If you find yourself thinking about a time when things went wrong, try reframing it in a way that is useful to you. What is it about the memory that reminds you of your current decision? Write down all the parts of the experience that feel relevant to the present. The list could be as long or as short as you want.

When you’re finished, break down each point. For example, if you’re moving, the list could include a point “I don’t want to go through the stress of moving again, last time we were so unorganized,” Inside the mind, it can be easy to condemn yourself to being a “disorganized person”. Instead, try thinking back to the specifics of that belief to understand where it’s coming from. Ask questions like:

  • What made it disorganized?

  • Based on that experience, what can you do to be more organized this time?

Mistakes Aren’t Final

A mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn from it. Making the wrong decision doesn’t mean you’re going to do it again. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs tell you otherwise. By going through an uncomfortable experience, you’ve had the opportunity to feel it and learn the ups and downs. The next time you foresee something similar, you can be compassionate with yourself to make a better choice this time around.