How do I know if I’ve made the right decision?

That’s a good question for a Monday morning isn’t it? How exactly do you know if you’ve made the right decision about something?

Well, maybe you don’t.

But maybe that’s okay.

I went and spent the night at the seaside last week, because I fancied a paddle. I did actually paddle too, even though it was really bloody freezing. I did a ten minute Twitter poll and surprise surprise, 95% of people were in favour of the February paddle. I feel a bit sad really for the 5% who said no because seriously, how can you go to the beach and not want to take your tights off and get your feet wet?

Making a decision isn’t always as easy though as conducting a Twitter poll, although we can take the paddling as a simple example of how you don’t always need to worry about whether you’ve made the right decision.

Twitter decided I should go for a paddle, so I did. It was fun – I felt like I was doing something exciting and exhilarating. I felt like I’d made the most of going to the beach. Let’s say though that I had decided not to paddle – I would have avoided having freezing cold feet and tiny bits of sand and stones in my boots for the rest of the day, which would have also been nice.

So this is my first point – it doesn’t normally matter what you decide, because in most cases there is no right or wrong answer.

I took this photo while I was at the beach to illustrate my point:

have I made the right decision?

You see? I could go in either direction and ultimately I’d end up at the same place.

(Deep right?)

That’s so often the case with decisions. I’m not saying you’ll end up at exactly the same place physically, but emotionally I reckon you can make your peace with pretty much anything if you try hard enough, and no one thing you do is going to be the one thing that makes you happy or sad forever. Life doesn’t work like that.

The second thing to remember, if you’re asking yourself whether or not you’ve made the right decision, is that most things in life aren’t permanent. If I had decided not to paddle last week I could always have changed my mind and gone back again another day. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves sometimes when it comes to decision making, but most decisions are reversible.

Okay, so if you decide to have a baby you can’t then change your mind very easily when they hit the terrible twos – kids tend to hang around I’ve found – but even with big decisions you can often change your mind. Moved out of your home town and regretting it? You can always move back. Left a job you realise you loved? You can always look for a similar one. Plus, even when you think you’ve made the best decision in the world about something, that’s no guarantee of everlasting happiness.

Stuff changes, shit happens.

Rather than spending your time fretting about decisions, focus instead on developing an attitude that makes you flexible, resilient and adaptable to change. That way whatever choice you make or whatever life throws at you, you can cope.

Or, given that all roads lead to the coast, you could just have a paddle and not think about it.



  1. 20 February, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    Deep question for a Monday morning, Jo! Great post … love your take on it. You can spend so long going backwards and forwards about decisions and sometimes it’ll make no real difference at all!

    • Jo Middleton
      20 February, 2017 / 2:07 pm

      It’s true! If you just picked one and got on with it we’d all probably have a lot more free time!

  2. 20 February, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    I love this post so much Jo. You are so very wise. x

  3. 20 February, 2017 / 5:14 pm

    Hope all is ok Jo = a bit of a long walk if you pick the wrong way on the coast path though and end up trudging all round the toe of Cornwall… !

  4. 20 February, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    I always think that whatever decision we make is the right one. We can stew for hours over the pros and cons, the weighing up this way and that, but ultimately something inside pushes us one way or the other, and that means it is the right decision – whatever the outcome! If the decision leads to trouble, we can look for the lessons in that trouble. Maybe we needed that lesson at that time for our highest good. If the decision leads to positivity – well course, that proves it was the right decision!
    I hope that your decision, whatever it was – was made on the beach … at least you know it is the right one!

  5. Jo James
    20 February, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    Words of wisdom….thank you xxxx

  6. Boo
    20 February, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    I seem to have made plenty of wrong decisions. I’ve now got MS and can no longer walk, have carers in etc. I’m letting my husband go, it’s not fair on him to look after me for the rest of his life. It breaks my heart but I’ve made it impossible for us to stay together. It’s not reversible but I know that I have made the right decision for him. He no longer likes me, fair enough, means a job well done. Better one us unhappy than two. I just hope he finds someone else who will make him happy for the rest of his life. Sorry Jo that post struck a nerve with me.. Will I live to regrets this? Definitely. Will I change it? No.

    • Jo Middleton
      22 February, 2017 / 9:46 am

      Oh God, I’m so sorry, what a horrible situation for you both. I don’t even know what to say as I can’t begin to imagine how hard a decision that was for you. I can only hope that it gets easier for you with time. Do you have friends and family around who can support you?

      • Boo
        22 February, 2017 / 10:37 am

        No really close friends as only moved here 5 years ago. Dad, sister and niece half an hour away so when husband moves out they will help (Mum died unexpectedly Christmas Eve just gone, she would have loved to help too) when he’s gone. Won’t come over at mo as he doesn’t like them! Our son will live with me as he’s just settled at upper school and friends are here, although he will have unlimited contact with his Dad. All a bit of a mess really. As you can imagine some days better than others but just got to make best of it. I still maintain I’ve done everything for the best though. Thanks for replying.

        • Jo Middleton
          22 February, 2017 / 11:30 am

          Oh gosh, you’ve lost your mum too – what an awful time for you. I’m glad you’re not going to be on your own at least. All best wishes x

  7. 21 February, 2017 / 12:31 am

    This is freakily good timing. I was just pondering the question of how to make decisions, when your blog post popped into my email box. Synchronicity at work! And it’s always worth a paddle… :-)

    • Jo Middleton
      22 February, 2017 / 9:44 am

      Well there you go! The world at work :-)

  8. 21 February, 2017 / 11:12 am

    “Stuff changes, shit happens.”

    This is the takeaway for me. Though, one part of me still tells me that, some decisions need not be taken lightly.

    Thanks for your insightful post anyway.

    • Jo Middleton
      22 February, 2017 / 9:44 am

      Maybe you could try an experiment – next time you’re faced with a not so important decision, make a snap one. Give it hardly any thought and just go with your instinct. I think the more you practice this, the easier it becomes, and it’s actually really satisfying. Just choose quickly and with confidence. It’s fun!

  9. 21 February, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    I love this. I am always beating myself up if I make the wrong decision about something, Quite liberating to think that it doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things.

  10. 22 February, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    This is fabulous Jo, so simple and yet so right. Thanks, Mich x

  11. 24 February, 2017 / 12:01 am

    I think most parents send their kids in first and decide about paddling based on their kids reaction.

    If the kids screams are too shrill most mums decide that the coats and shoes need guarding so they cant possibly get into the water.

    • Jo Middleton
      24 February, 2017 / 8:51 am

      Haha! That sounds like a good strategy but I was on my own so I had to go for it!

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