12/02/2014 05:20 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2015

The Space for Change

I seem to be having a lot of discussions with others lately about transitions -- changes in job, career, relationships, and geographical location. Not small ones, but major, life-changing ones. For sure, transitions are not easy. And what seems to come up in my discussions is the question of how do you know when to stay -- when you have to gut it out because there is a lesson to be learned or a practical reason -- vs. when do you know it's time to give it up and move on, regardless of what logic says?

Take for example a career change. Perhaps you've been giving it some thought, but aren't sure if you're just unhappy in your job, or if it's something more all together. Perhaps you recognize you are not a good communicator, and this job is forcing you to communicate more. Maybe you stay to work on the lesson. But maybe you come to realize the career really just doesn't fit your passion, interests, and skills.

So how do you know?

There are numerous tools and assessments that can help elucidate the decision, or highlight what may be a blind spot for you. As a practical, facts-based person, I like tools and charts because it's easier for me to take in information and sort through the pros and cons. But sometimes I recognize that decision tools don't always shed the necessary light to draw a conclusion. I have to dial back my logic and start looking at my intuition.

I've realized that decision making sometimes come down to faith, intuition, and listening to your gut. Getting there may be allowing yourself the quiet space to have a truthful conversation with yourself (or someone else) to assess what is really important to you, what you are grappling with specifically in this decision, and how you can make the decision that is right for you with as much grace and kindness as possible. The quiet space to listen to your intuition also allows you to hear if you need to stay to learn lessons that are being presented to you or if another path is being laid out for you to follow to make you your best self.

Easier said than done, for sure. But I think the times I've honestly, truly, wholeheartedly followed my gut, I've always been happier with the decision. I cringe at any pain or discomfort it may cause others, and I continue to refine a graceful approach to any decision that is unpopular with others. But I've ended up happier with my decision in the long run when I've stayed true to me.

Yet I've also realized that in the midst of the decision making process, there always appears to be some period - a day, a month, a year, etc- where I am still able to learn the lesson I need to. The knowledge helps me not only make this decision, but improves it for future ones as well.

While I was thinking about change and decisions, I came across a great article that shared the wisdom of others who have grappled with difficult decisions. This was one of innumerable sources of inspiration available at a click of the mouse. It goes to show that there is a whole host of help, inspiration and insight to give you different ways of looking at the enigmatic prism of change.

The best wisdom I can offer is two-fold, and maybe contradictory. Seek out others to gain different perspectives, but also find the quiet space you need to work it through. I'm finding that when you get quiet and get real, the right decision comes to you. Find those that are in your corner and champion the change, who listen to the pros and cons of your decision and help you work through it. Find the space to be thoughtful and quiet and listen to the answers you hear. Most importantly, listen to your gut in this quiet. If your gut tells you that you will be disappointed or let down by going in a certain direction, honor that and move forward on a different path. Your best and future self will appreciate it.