This is one of those age old questions isn’t it? Should you follow your heart or should you follow your head when you have a difficult decision to make?
Do you follow along with your heart that allows you to feel invincible, that you can achieve everything and that anything is possible?
Or do you follow your head that is more realistic, practical and often times more sensible?
Following your heart makes you happy, it puts a big smile on your face and gets the endorphins (our feel good hormones) dancing, having their own party.
Following your head allows you to see reasonably, it offers up practical advice / solutions which help to keep you safe and keeps you from being too hasty or rash in decision making that you may regret later.
Following your heart can often mean that you are acting from impulse or on a whim. You get an idea, or one is suggested to you, it seems like a good idea, you get excited, you see potential and possibilities that didn’t exist to you before. You feel alive, you may even feel euphoric. You just want to get moving and get started, you have no time to waste, you need to strike while the iron is hot and the opportunity exists. There is something new and exciting waiting for you so the sooner you start, the better.
Following your head can often feel like you are playing safe and not living your life to your fullest or that perhaps opportunities are going to be passing you by. Following your head can sometimes feel like a parent or teacher telling us, yet again, that we can’t do something that we really want to do. Our head warns us of impracticalities, of danger, of pitfalls – all the reasons why we shouldn’t be doing a particular something, even when it can see the benefits being put forward to us as well.
We get so carried away in our feelings and our excitement that we don’t often stop to think about what it all really involves or means in the big picture of our lives.
A good example of this type of scenario is that of a new job offer. At first it is a bit like wearing rose coloured glasses – everything is tinted pink (a colour of love) so everything has the potential to be wonderful while we get swept up in the promise of all the possible highlights.
We get caught up in the offer. We get caught up in the beauty of the location, we get caught up in the excitement of the people we will be working with, we get caught up in the potential of the people we will be working for, or the prestige, or income we will be earning, or what we could learn, or how much we will grow and develop etc. etc.
It really does sound all rosy, perky and ideal. Our heart has done it’s job on selling us all the benefits, making us excited and wanting us to say “Yes”.
Then once we settle down a bit, after the rush of all the excitement and possibilities, our head kicks in for it’s two cents worth of opinion.
Yes the location is great, but what about the commute to and from work or having to relocate? What do you really know about the people you will be working with? Will the people you will be working for be nice or are they really dictators and bullies (they have gotten to where they are today for some reason)? What is prestige and what will it mean for you anyway? Yes the income will be a nice improvement but what about the hours you will have to work and is the remuneration package that much better than what you have at the moment? What about keeping up your lifestyle that you are so happy with? Will you really learn that much more with these people? What will further growth and development mean for you anyway?
It really does sound like an endless battle with all the questions and all the answers running through your head and heart. A battle that just seems to keep going on and on, around and around, like an endless merry-go-round that just doesn’t seem to want to stop.
Let me give you another example.
The image above was taken a number of years ago and I think you can quite clearly see a pair of dirty pants, a muddy shoe and a dirty sock with a shoe missing.
This came about because the wearer was following his heart. He could see the big puddle of water and just couldn’t resist riding his bike through it. It was nearly time to come in for the night, he was full of adventure, he loved riding his bike and the puddle full of water was just too great a temptation to pass up.
So, as the story goes, he knew the water was there and he decided it would just be fun to ride through the middle of it. That sounded like a good plan. Hop on the bike, peddle through the water and come out the other side. It sounded good in theory.
As you can see the theory had a few flaws. The water was deeper than expected. The puddle was longer than it looked. The base of the puddle was very soft and boggy. The rider was not as good or as strong as he thought he was.
Result: making it part way through the puddle, getting stopped by the mud then having to hop off the bike to walk out of the puddle.
This was definitely a case of following a heart and not a head.
So what should you do to work out the best option for you to be taking, or for helping your decision making process to be a bit easier and to stop that endless battle being waged inside of you?
There are a number of ways that you can start to work out whether you should follow your heart or your head. Some of these include:
~ Readdress your offer or whatever it is that has gotten you so excited and confused
~ Ask more questions
~ Do more research
~ Think about what it is you really want to be doing with your life and how this offer fits into that plan
~ Discuss your issue with trusted friends, family, colleagues etc. who know and understand you
~ Think about what your short and long term goals are
~ Consider the impact your decision will have on others around you
~ Write a list of pro’s and con’s. Make a list of all the positive aspects and make another list of all the not-so-positive aspects of your proposal or offer. Once completed you may be able to clearly see which list has the most content and therefore the better or easier decision for you to be taking
~ Centre yourself. Breath slowly and deeply to calm yourself down so you can think clearly without all the drama that is playing out in your body
~ Sleep on it
That I think is always a very important step to take. It gives your chattering head and turmoil heart a chance to be still while you sleep, allowing your sub-conscious mind to kick in helping you to reset and re-frame what is happening or has been offered.
Usually after a sleep the answer or the actions for us to take are much clearer as we are more gathered and coherent with our thoughts and heart. We can sometimes wake up the next morning clearly knowing which avenue we should be pursuing.
You may wake up refreshed, happy and like a load has been taken from your shoulders, or you may wake still feeling tired, angry, upset or still confused. Either way, you will know the cause and the path you should be pursuing.
If sleeping on the matter, allowing yourself more time to contemplate your offer or issue isn’t possible, then perhaps the offer is not the best one for you to be taking up. Especially if it is something you have not given any thought to previously or if the offer seems too good to be true, or too easy a solution or way out for you.
Also, if you are feeling pressured into making a decision, it is possibly the wrong choice for you to be making. You should always have your own say, have your own voice heard and always make your own decisions.
It is your life you’re living and YOU are responsible for living it how YOU CHOOSE and not someone else.
So then, should you follow your heart or your head?
I personally think it depends on the proposal, the timing and the circumstances.
Allow yourself to get excited, allow yourself to see the possibilities and the potential – both positive and no-so-positive from all angles before making your decision.
follow your heart,
with the wisdom of your head!