When you’re faced with equally good decisions, which path do you take? It can be pretty hard choosing between two good options… or more.
I’ve recently been in a very exciting season of life. Not gonna lie – it’s been quite stressful, a little bit tense, a little bit uneasy, and a little unsettling. But the step I’m making is something I’ve been aiming towards for a while, and it’s pretty great to be standing in the midst of it all.
I’ve been looking at buying my first home. And not just looking, but making a lot of the decisions to seal the deal.
I’ve probably been to over 20 inspections in the last 2 months, with 12 being in the past week. It’s been nuts. There’ve been some duds, and some experiences that have helped refine what I want along the way.
There’s also been a lot of good options to pick from.
I was talking to a friend the other night about my experiences so far and he said it sounded like I was describing choosing a wife. Someone else had compared it to the car purchase they had just made. Another person was talking about how they’re also working through their options with regards to their career.
After talking to a few more people, it’s pretty clear that a lot of us can relate to seasons where it’s not the bad decisions that are confusing us or holding us back – it’s being caught between multiple good options. Maybe you’re in a similar situation to me in that you’re deciding on the first property you’re going to purchase. Maybe you’re trying to choose the person you want to date or pursue. Maybe you’re looking at different cars, careers, or location decisions.
Wherever you find yourself, I thought I’d share some of the decision making process I’ve been going through in my approach to houses. In truth I probably think similar thoughts when making other big decisions, so hopefully there’s something helpful or relateable in here for you where you are at at the moment.
So when you’re choosing between two good options… or more options than that, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. The short term
I guess the most immediately relevant part of a big decision is how it affects us in the short term. How does this decision affect my today? In approaching buying a house, I’d be kidding if I didn’t acknowledge I’m affected by my immediate circumstances. Where I’m currently working, where most of my life currently happens, the amount of space my belongings and myself take up, the things in a house I consider important for living in right now.
A lot of our decisions are morphed by how we’re going today. If it’s another area, like a relationship, a friendship, or a job, immediate financial circumstances or recent experiences with other people have a huge amount of influence on how you see your options. The things you currently consider important in your life – how you spend your time, what you believe your calling or purpose in life is today and how it’s being acted out, the effects your decisions may have on those around you – they’re all contenders for which path we’re going to take.
I guess many of us get completely blindsided in this part of the decision making process, and don’t always move beyond here. If the immediate rules our whole decision, we may miss some important aspects of where this is going to take us.
2. The medium and the long term
Enter the medium and the long term. My mind has been living here for a while over the last few months. If I move into place X now given my current financial situation, and in 5 to 10 years the interest rate changes, my salary changes, I have kids, the location of my workplace changes, the surrounding properties change, the market changes… do I actually know what becomes of the decision I make today? There’s a lot of moving factors.
I guess there’s a lot more issues come into play in similar decisions. If you live in this house, or marry this person, or focus on this group of friends, or study this course, where will it take you? In the words of Mercury 4, tell me where you’ll be five years from now. How about ten? Sure, we don’t know every bump or change along the way, but if we don’t have a general idea or a goal as to who we want to be, we may be missing something really important in the choice we make today.
That said, our priorities and circumstances can change. Say you’re really into your current career now, or you don’t want kids any time soon, or someone in your family gets hurt, will you be able to handle it with your current decision? We need to be factoring that need for breathing room into our decisions.
It’s a scary question sometimes confronting what you really want and who you really are. But it’s completely necessary if we really want to make the big decisions well.
Which door will lead you closer to the person you want to be?
Timing is a massive factor in the decisions we make. Think about the decisions you’re facing today – would you have been facing them 5 years ago? Do you feel the same way about the decision you’re facing now as you did back then? Maybe not. Or maybe you did. Decisions related to markets and people and priorities are usually affected by our perspective, or ignorance, to the timing with which the decision has come up.
With house buying, there’s a precedent in many situations to make a big decision as quick as you can. If you don’t, the opportunity disappears, and you need to be okay with that. In fact, the opportunity will disappear regardless of how you feel.
There’s a lot to be said for waiting for the right time. Having the finances you need, completing your education, going through the years of getting the small jobs right, building character, making connections, the divine element of the right time. Trying to proceed before these are in place may end in disaster.
That said, many times it’s more often the case that we do have the means to follow through on a decision. As many people have said to me, if it’s within your means to do it now, why wait? Good question. Why are you waiting?
The problem with waiting too long when multiple doors open is that they usually all close at the same time too. There’s not just a decision to be made about whether or not now is the right time – there’s also usually a time limitation on how long we have to work out what we’re doing.
Most of the time, what makes it the right time or not is whether or not we’re actually going to be diligent and do something, or sit back and keep watching.
4. The fear/risk factor
I think in honesty all those big decisions can be quite intimidating. Many times it’s just fear that’s holding us back. We may have a good idea about which door will lead us where, we may have the means to follow through, we may even have the advice and approval of wise counselors in our lives. But if at the critical moment we lock up or hesitate, we may fall short of where we could be.
Sure, I could continue to wait a bit longer til I have a much larger deposit or til some idyllic golden light shines upon the house my heart yearns for or even just put the decision off 6 or 12 months longer. And it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I did that. But to be honest, all things considered, it would be fear making that decision, not wisdom. And while it’s tempting to hold back, and I could put it off and put it off and put it off, like so many of us do with so many different decisions in our lives – I may be unnecessarily missing out on the benefits of where this door will take me.
Is fear the only thing that’s holding you back from making a choice either way?
Take a chance.
Just some thoughts I’ve been considering in approaching a very big and exciting decision in my life. How are you approaching the decisions in your life? If you’re presented with two or more good options, which one of them lends better towards these considerations? How does it affect your today, your tomorrow? How are you negotiating the timing? Is it just the fear of failing or of change that is holding you back when it doesn’t have to be?
You are more than you think. There is so much more ahead in life for you. Don’t let the wrong things hold you back from making a decision that could lead you exactly where you need to be next.