How do you know what you want the most?

We’re going to spend a few days talking about decision-making. Buckle up.

We had a healthy debate in a recent service about the phrase, “Follow your heart.” This is often the advice that we give in a situation where a person is confronted with a difficult decision where a person must choose between two incommensurate outcomes.

For example, say I have to choose between accepting a job in California or staying put. I cannot do both, I have to choose between them. I ask my mother for advice and she tells me, “Follow your heart.”

What would it mean to follow my heart?

Well, I think what people generally mean when they say this is either a. /do the thing you desire most/. In this case, it’s a matter of doing the thing you feel strongest about. It could also be implying b. /the thing you value the most will create the strongest desire/. In other words, let’s say I value warm weather the most, therefore I desire to move to California. That’s a values-based choice that is manifested in my feelings.

The question is, how do you know, in advance, which thing you want the most? How do you prove the strength of desire when making a choice?