Monday 7 November 2016

Don't fear making decisions

"I've been wondering lately if I made the right decision. Should I have said yes to that opportunity?"
My friend looks at me questioningly. I know him well, and I don't have to think twice about it: "Absolutely not. You did the right thing!"
I'm convinced of that. Knowing his personal situation, there is no doubt in my mind that he made the right choice. 

But here is the thing: If he would have decided to say yes, to go for it, I would also have supported his decision. It involved a ton of extra work, less money, and almost no free time for a year, but I know he would have made it through. The payoff would have been worth it. And it would also have been the right choice.   

We are so worried about making decisions. What if it's the wrong one? 
We seem to think that life is a gigantic multiple choice test, with three wrong answers and only one correct one, and we are constantly worried about choosing the incorrect answer. 

Relax, sweet ones: Life's not that difficult.

That road you see in the picture above looks straight and easy to walk on, doesn't it? And it is. I've walked that particular road thousands of times, and I can confirm that it is, indeed, easy to walk on, in all weather conditions. 

But here is the thing: It ends after only a few hundred feet in a fork, and you have to make a decision: To go left or right. You can't continue on straight. 

That's life. Sooner or later, we always have to make decisions. Whether we are aware of it or not, we already are accomplished decision-makers, making an astounding 35,000 decisions every single day
And yet, we still fear the ones we consider "big": What career to choose, where to work, where to live, whether to rent or buy, whom to marry. 
They are, no doubt, important decisions to make. But instead of thinking there are only two options - right or wrong - how about we look at it differently: That nothing you will decide is wrong. 

How awesome would that be, right?! Well, how about I tell you that it is that easy?

Just consider it for a moment: Who decides what's wrong or right for you? You do. Nobody else gets a vote. You can talk to others, seek advice, listen to what they have to say, but ultimately, it's up to you and you alone.  

None of us will ever know for sure if we took the right turn. There are no do-overs in life, no going back in time to try again. The only choice we have is to take the turn, and then figure it out as we go along. Don't stand paralyzed at the fork, unable to make up your mind which way to go! 
Choose one, and go for it. And if that one didn't work, choose another, and try again. 

Every single successful person has made many, many mistakes. Take a look at these 29 successful people who failed before they succeeded. (We are in excellent company!)

I believe that the only real mistake we can make is being so afraid of making a choice, that we are rooted to the spot, and don't make one. Picture yourself being in a roundabout, driving in endless circles, too afraid to take an exit. It's hell, isn't it? 
Well, I bet we all know people who are stuck in the roundabout. 

High school graduates who took a minimum-wage job after school "just until I figure out what I want to do with my life", and are still working it five years later, miserable and dissatisfied, yet seemingly unable to make a decision and move on.  

People in unhappy or dysfunctional relationships, desperate to get out, yet too scared/used to it/lethargic to do so. 

Employees who hate their jobs, yet stay in it year after year, because of the money/benefits/what if another job is just as bad/you sort of got used to it/at least you know it. 

To help you get out of that roundabout, I think a good way is to remove yourself from it mentally. Let's say you have been considering a new job, but every time you are at your current job you get doubts: You will miss your co-workers, nobody makes coffee as good as Herman does, you have finally mastered the art of pleasing your hard-to-please boss. Do you really want to start over, be the new kid again? 
Don't ask yourself that question while on your job. Do it at home, preferable on a weekend when you're mentally free from it, and think of your life as the big picture. We tend to only think of our immediate future: What will happen next week, or next month. 

Sit back in your comfiest chair, with your favourite beverage in hand, and think of your life at large. What do you want it to look like? What is something you've always wanted to do? If someone offered to make a movie of your life, would you be happy with it the way it is now? Or is something missing?
And my favourite: When you sit in your rocking chair on the front porch in 40 years, will you have regrets about things you didn't do, because you were too afraid? I truly believe that we won't regret the things we attempted and failed at. At least we went for it and tried it! But we will regret missed chances.

What is it that you want to do? 
Go on, brave one, and do it.




  1. Love this post! "the only real mistake we can make is being so afraid of making a choice." Well. This tends to be me. Not that I don't ever ever ever make a decision but it takes me a really really long time and we all know that time is precious.

    1. It's not just you, it's all of us. Comfort zone has that name for a reason - it's nice, comfy and safe - and leaving it takes a lot of energy. Mustering that energy is a battle that needs to be fought over and over again! It's not easy, but it's worth it.

  2. Excellent post Miriam! My husband and o had a conversations similar to this while sitting in our rocking chairs on the front porch over several summer nights. A lot of "what if's" came up for him. I told him to do it and I would support him no matter what. Now a big decision might happen soon. You don't know until you try! No regrets.

    1. That's awesome! Good luck to you both!! As long as you stick together, it will all work out. You never know until you try, and I strongly believe we should go for whatever it is we want to chase. Maya Angelou once said "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
      Having unfulfilled goals/dreams weighs heavily on us, and we will feel better for giving them a shot!


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