how to follow your heart

View from Hudson River Park with the Statue of Liberty in the distance

I used to think I was terribly indecisive.  I would agonize over possibilities in the shower, while I ate, in my sleep.  It got so bad that often I would hand my decision making to someone else or back myself into a corner so the decision would be made for me.

Then something happened last year that made me see things in a whole new way.  Something that showed me decisions aren’t to be “made” – they come.  And if they’re not coming, there’s no decision to be made.  Talk about relief.

What was it?  The decision to move back to New York.  But it wasn’t a decision.

Here’s how it happened:  I was in London, having been through some very difficult months and enough moving around to give you whiplash.

It was early October.  I was sitting in the kitchen of my sublet in Notting Hill, wrapped in a heavy blanket because of the notorious bad heating.  I had been debating what to do for weeks – I was ready to move back to the States, but where?  I had my eye on California – Santa Barbara, to be precise – but something in my heart pinched.  For some reason, I hadn’t bought the plane ticket.  I hadn’t made plans.  My body was making no movements in that direction.  There was no force moving me there.

And then that’s when I felt it – a force.  At first, it was barely a flutter.  And the flutter ventured: how about New York?

New York?  What?  Been there, done that, I’d always said.  But not this time.  New York?  Really?  Again?  No, not again, came the flutter/force…anew.

Anew.  Yes.  I could see my old city with new eyes, experience it again for myself, appreciate it all the more, and invite new, better beginnings.  Not to mention be a whole lot closer to my family and the friends I had left behind.  It just made complete and utter…sense.

And then everything clicked with tremendous force.  The apartment was found.  The plane ticket was bought.  The boxes were shipped.  All in a matter of days.  No thinking, no debating, no decision making.  It simply came.  And it all felt right.  Within less than a month, I was re-united with my first love.

That’s when I saw that all my “indecisiveness” in the past was simply about not having the right option at the right time.  Decision making is like falling in love – you just know.  You can’t control it, you can’t predict it; and, if it’s not happening, then it’s simply not time yet.

And here I am, over four months later, not regretting a thing and certain this is exactly where I need to be.

Deciding Not To Decide

I had the opportunity to share this learning with a friend in London over a Skype chat a few weeks ago.  She was in the middle of a big decision, and I immediately recognized the familiar angst-ridden expression on her face.  When I told her that she could decide not to decide, I saw levity wash across her face instantly.  Here’s what she jotted down after our conversation:

  • I focus on what *I* want, and once that is clear, I use that to inform my decision
  • I do what feels good
  • I take my time in making my decisions (i.e. I beat to my own ‘time’ drum!)
  • If making a decision right now doesn’t feel good, I do not make a decision
  • I listen closely to the voice that tells me what I want and I treasure and respect what it says

There’s a saying making the self-help rounds recently: that indecision is a form of self-abuse.  I disagree.  Not deciding is your heart telling you it’s not time yet, or that the options aren’t right.  “Decision making” is all in your head; and it’s bound to give you a headache.  Give up thinking you “should” decide, and your heart will irrevocably guide you to what you’ll really love.

4 Responses

  1. Buy a Schwinn!

    Hey Jess, gotta tell you a story along these lines (but with less emotion) that taught me a lot about decision making. Easier said than done, for sure…

    Decades ago I wanted to buy my son a bike. A good friend of mine said, “Buy a Schwinn!” What? No research? I blew him off and launched a major research project of every exotic bike on the planet. After months of exhaustive research, I was an expert on bikes. Then I carefully weighed all the possible options, and decided on the perfect bike that simply “felt right” after all my research. Guess what? It was a Schwinn!

    To this day my friend and I have a saying “Buy a Schwinn!” when either of us has a major decision to make.

    It takes BOTH your head and your heart to make the best decision – FOR YOU!

    The “head” part involves data gathering – with NO predetermined conclusion. That’s hard to do – as witnessed by your periods of indecision above. Then once you have as much data as your head can handle, you enter the second phase of seeing what part FEELS right. That’s your “heart” part.

    Quite often you have to “pre-decide” what you want among several options and let your heart experience what that decision feels like. Then move on to the other options. California? Hmmm… maybe… Texas? An obvious (!) good choice. New York? If you can make it there…

    Finally you and your heart have to have a nose to nose conversation. What FEELS best? You know the facts. You’ve listened to your friends. NEW YORK! YES! Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Yankees (gasp! Hard for us Texans to say…)

    Essentially you did just that without really knowing the process beforehand. Welcome to my world! Yes, your heart is the ultimate decision maker. But your head provides the backup data.

    And it sure helps to have a friend who tells you what to do right up front. I hope I can be that friend…

    Now… listen to me… Come to Ft. Worth this summer. You’ll love it!

    Now do your research.

    March 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    • Jess

      Great story, Russ, thanks! Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. I really appreciate your encouragement about the conference. I have a travel conflict at present, but I will let you know if that changes.

      March 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  2. Mark Baldwin


    There’s a following, if you will, called Ho’oponopono. Its Hawaiin and has been the focus of a few of Joe Vitale’s books and seminars. The basic theory behind it is this: We are not in control and should allow the Divine to inspire us to make the right decisions. When you say the phrase, “I love you, I am sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, you petition the Divine to erase memories and programs that hinder us, that hold us back, that cause us pain.

    Most people operate from playing back old memories and programs and not from INSPIRATION from the Divine. You chose NY for a reason you don’t know yet; but you will in time. In Divine’s time.

    On Saturday, I was fired from my job of 4 years. I am trusting this is part of MY PLAN.


    March 23, 2011 at 11:01 am

    • Jess

      Interesting, thanks, Mark. And best of luck!

      March 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm

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