Vicky Newham

Making big decisions


Have you noticed how every so often life throws decisions at us? Recently I’ve had a number of these to make, some professional, others more personal. Some have been small, others huge … with all sorts of implications. Ability to cope with decision-making, so psychological research tells us, can depend on a number of factors. One of these relates to whether or not we knew the decision was looming or whether it comes out of left field. Other factors concern the nature of the decision(s), how many of them there are, and what else is going on at the time.

Sometimes I know instinctively what the best thing, or the right thing, is to do, and feel confident about it. Is this a gut feeling or a mental thing? I’m never really sure and it doesn’t really matter. On other occasions I have to dig a bit deeper and be patient with myself. At times like that I find a range of things can be helpful. I find nature very beneficial. Sitting by the sea, mulling things over, it never fails to help. Often, though, I just go for a walk along the beach – or on the downs – and decide not to think consciously about ‘The Dilemma’ at all. It’s surprising how often a solution or decision presents itself either at the time or later.

One of my favourite places to chill is on the beach in Whitstable

One of my favourite places to ‘chill’ is on the beach in Whitstable

I am also a great believer in talking things through with people I trust. I am lucky to have a number of good friends, with whom I can be completely honest, and who will be honest with me. They know that launching in with “Right, what you’ve got to do is …” before I’ve explained everything, doesn’t work with me. Sometimes I do actively want advice, but sometimes I find it beneficial to think aloud, discuss the options and to then toddle off and make up my own mind. I do, however, know that if they thought I was making an enormous mistake, they would say so. And often have.

When I taught A-level Psychology, one of the sections of the course that students enjoyed was the one on life events. When we read the research and discussed the findings, they were always surprised that ‘good’ things that happen in life can be as stressful as ‘bad’ ones. One of the reasons is that, regardless of whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it heralds change. And the thing about decisions is that they tend to involve change too. Change. It’s a biggie, isn’t it?

Over the last few years I’ve got into mindfulness and meditation. It’s taken me decades to be able to do it. Getting out of your mind and into your body, wow! It’s like taking off your head for a while and having a lie down. Then you can put it back on. Unfortunately, I don’t have any miracle solutions for how to make big decisions. I have made enormous changes in my life in the last two years. When I left teaching, I decided to enrol for my MA and start writing full-time. I also decided to sell my house and move to the coast. When our mother died last summer, my brother and I had to empty to the house and help sell it. Thank goodness you only have to do that once in your life. It has been a long period of having to make some very difficult decisions, sometimes one after the other, but often with many converging. Recently I’ve had more pleasant ones to make: where to live; which house to put an offer on. These have been, as the research shows, stressful and draining. Other decisions linger, such as how to support myself whilst I’m writing my books and trying to get that illusive publishing contract.

This tree, on Farthing Downs in Coulsdon, is an old friend of mine

This large tree, on Farthing Downs in Coulsdon, is an old friend of mine

Next week I will move into my new permanent house. I will be able to move all of my belongings from Coulsdon and have them in one place. The house there still hasn’t been sold, but it’s going through, s l o w l y. I hope that this intense period of upheaval and decision-making is coming to an end. Meanwhile, I shall continue to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to live in the present moment. And having faith that life has a timing of its own.

Vicky Newham © 2013

Author: Vicky Newham

Vicky Newham is a writer, living in Whitstable, Kent. She writes crime fiction, psychological thrillers and science fiction. Her main projects are novels, but she also writes short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction articles and some poetry.

4 thoughts on “Making big decisions

  1. Glad to hear life is coming together 🙂 In the last 18 months or so, I’ve found that big decisions have been mostly taken out of my hands – for example health problems last year led to moving house and more recently being made redundant – so in my case it’s just rolling with the punches. I’ve just started meditation too in a bid to slow my speeding mind and I find it difficult to switch off. I think you’re right in saying you have to just keep going, experimenting with what works for you and trimming away what doesn’t! Good luck with the writing – the perseverance is always worth it!

    • Hi Lynne, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am sorry to hear about your health problems and redundancy. I agree that life sometimes decides things for us. I have had that too and sometimes 5here are very shiny silver linings, and sometimes they’re … er … less obvious! Are you comfortable now with your changes? The meditation is definitely worth it if you can do it regularly. Thanks about the writing. I’m it for the long haul and for the love of it, so I shall keep working hard and trying new things.

  2. I hate decisions and often find I am led by the path of least resistance. Not good, I know.

    I have great respect for the massive decisions and actions you have taken Vicky and wish you so much success and happiness with them. I hope the ones you are currently working through do not cause too much upset.

    I like the sound of mindfulness and meditation and could do with taking my own head off some days. I should look those up.

    Hoping the move goes well!

    • Rebecca, thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my post. A lot of what I’ve done was motivated by wanting to do what makes me happy, finally, and live somewhere that does the same. They have been huge decisions … and the writing thing is a long term goal. It all requires a lot of patience, not always something I’m good at!

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