How To Make The Right Decision When Your Head And Heart Don’t Agree

how to make the right decision when your head and heart don't agree

Follow your heart, but check it with your head.
Steve Jobs

Should I quit my job now or suck it up for another year?

My gut was telling me it was time to go. I had tried this freelance writing thing and it wasn’t working for me. 

I was tired of clients who called me at every hour of the day and night to make some small edit, of pitching articles that would never see the light of day, and of taking on projects that didn’t excite me just to pay the bills. It was killing my soul.

My head wasn’t having none of it. “Don’t dare to quit your job,” it would say. “You’ve got bills to pay. Responsibilities to honour. Clients who rely on you. 

“So what if the job isn’t exciting? You need to put food on the table. You can do what fulfills you when you get rich. For now, suck it up like everyone else.”

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? And still, it doesn’t feel quite right…

What do you do when your head and your heart don’t agree? Do you listen to your gut and go for it, even if it means you’ll fail, or do you listen to your head and do the sensible thing, even if it kills you inside?

It’s the old logic vs intuition debate. Here’s how to make the right decision every time:

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Logic VS Intuition: Why Your Gut Is Almost Always Right

Doesn’t matter what struggle you’re dealing with, I believe deep down you know what the right decision is.

You can feel it in your gut. When your head is being sensible and telling you all the reasons why taking a chance is the worst thing you can do, you just feel uneasy about it.

It feels like a should, not a hell yeah! Hint: if it’s not a hell yeah! it’s usually not the right decision.

But your mind makes a lot of sense. It points out all the things that could go wrong because it wants to keep you safe from failure, pain, and heartache. 

But still, if it were right, why does it feel so bad?

I can tell you that every time I followed my gut, I never regretted it. When I listened to my mind… those were some of my biggest mistakes.

But following your gut is scary. Often illogical. Your soul wants you do things you have no idea how to do. Without a safety net, even. Isn’t that irresponsible?

When you feel like this, it helps to have a process that allows you to remove yourself from the equation and see the situation from an objective perspective.

It’s easier than you think: just stop thinking about it or talking with your friends and write it all down on paper. Here’s how:

Related: Should You Follow Your Dreams Or Be Realistic?


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How To Make The Right Decision

Putting your thoughts on paper gives you the clarity of mind you need to make the right decision.

You’ll realise that some of your fears are unfounded or blown out of all proportions and that some of your dreams aren’t your dreams at all. 

It’s all about asking yourself the right questions:

1. What’s Your Goal?

If you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t get there. So, let’s decide the destination first.

What’s your goal in making this decision?

When I was trying to decide whether to quit my freelance writing job or not, my goal was to have a career that I absolutely loved. I wanted to wake up excited for the day ahead and feel like my work mattered. 

As you go through all the pros and cons and answer the other questions, keep this goal in mind. 

Related: 5 Questions That’ll Help You Find Your Life Purpose

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2. What Are Your Options?

Now you know where you want to go, make a list of all the ways that’ll get you there.

It’s ok if you only have two options. But that’s rarely the case. Usually we have three, four or five… It’s just that we never think of them because they’re so far out of the box, they seem outrageous or unrealistic.

Jot them down anyway. At this point, you’re not making any decisions. You’re just exploring your options. They can be as wild as you like. You’ll narrow them down later.

When I started this exercise, I thought I had only two options: stay or leave. Turns out, I had a few more:

  • Quit my job straight away. 
  • Stay in my job until I saved enough money to quit.
  • Fire my worst clients and keep on only a few to help me pay the bills while I transitioned.
  • Put boundaries in place so that my clients won’t be able to bother me at every hour of the day and night, allowing me to take time back to work on a side gig until I was ready to fully transition.
  • Increase my rates so that my worst clients could dump me, and I’d be able to work fewer hours for the same amount of money, still pay the bills, and start working on a side hustle.

I’m sure there are more. This is just what popped into my head. But you get the point. Jot down all possible alternatives and paths. Nothing is off-limits here.

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3. What Are The Pros And Cons Of Each Option?

Ah, the old pros and cons list. List as many as you can for each option. Here’s an example:

Quitting my job right scenario

Not having to constantly look for new clients or bend over and backwards to please old onesHaving to cut my expenses to the absolute minimum until I found a new job
Have plenty of time to start a new business/look for a new jobFeeling the pressure to take any job to make ends meet
Not having to deal with the stresses of the job and bad clientsStarting a business with almost no money to invest in it
Worrying about how long my savings will last.

Put Boundaries In Place Scenarios

Not having to worry about the financial side of thingsWorrying I’ll disappoint my clients and they’ll all abandon me
Still be able to work with the clients I like on interesting projectsMy income may take a hit for a while as some clients leave
Regaining a healthier work-life balanceWhat if my side hustle fails?
Have more time to work on a side hustle
Have the money to invest in a side hustle to make it grow faster

You get the gist. Do this exercise for every option and see what fears and opportunities come up for you.

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4. What’s The Worst Thing That Can Happen?

For every scenario above, think about what’s the absolutely worst thing that can happen?

Often, when you think of quitting your job or take any sort of risks, your mind conjures up all kinds of apocalyptic scenarios that would never come true – yet they feel 100% real to you.

Jot them all down. Once you see them in black and white, you often realise how unrealistic this prospect is – and you’ll feel more encouraged to make the right decision.

For example, the worst thing that could have happened if I had left my job was to become homeless, live on the streets of London and lose all my friends.

In fact, this is the worst case scenario that popped into my head for all the alternatives I’ve listed up above. 

Yet, what were the odds of that happening? If things got really bad, I always could have gotten a job waitressing to pay the bills or come back home to my parents until I got back on my feet. Not ideal, but certainly not as bad as becoming homeless!

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5. Who Else Will My Decision Impact?

Your decision won’t affect only you. It will have an impact on everyone around you. Your partner. Your family. Your friends. 

Make it wisely. For every scenario, ask yourself, how will it impact my loved ones?

If I quit my job, I may not be able to pay my share of the rent and force my family to step in. But I’d probably be in a better mood every day.

If I stayed in a job I hated, I wouldn’t have to ask my family for financial help. But they’d have to put up with a very grumpy and miserable Giorgia.

If I went with one of the other options, I’d still be able to fulfill my financial obligations – and my loved ones would be around a much happier Giorgia. 

FYI, there’s no right or wrong answer here. If you feel strongly about leaving your job point black without a safety net, talk to your loved ones about it. 

They may be more than happy to help you for a few months while you get back on your feet if it means you’ll be in a better place mentally. Never assume that others will think bad of you or will resent helping you.

Related: How To Deal With Unsupportive Family Members

The most important decision you can make is whether to fulfil your life purpose or not. But first, you have to discover it. Click on the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the Purpose Finder Worksheet.


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Will You Follow Your Mind Or Your Gut?

Now you put everything on paper, how do you feel about your choice? Did your mind get on board with your gut or vice versa?

After completing this process you’ll find that your gut and mind were never really at odds. Your gut knows what the right decision is. Your mind just wanted to point out the pitfalls, so you can’t get there without getting hurt. 🙂

Over to you, now. How do you make a decision when your head and your heart don’t agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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