Best Decision of Your Life?
Most people put decisions on a pedestal. We weigh up pros and cons and put pressure on ourselves to make the “right” decision. We hold off for fear that deciding will be worse that not deciding.
Looking back, what was the best decision of your life?
I asked this question of a client recently. By her own admission she’s a master procrastinator when it comes to making decisions:
Never sure if she’s making the right decision
Always concerned that having made a decision, it might be the wrong one
Right now, she is wondering where to go next in her career. She can easily articulate at least 20 options, and is taking action on precisely zero of them.
I asked: “What is the best decision you have ever made?”
“Oh that’s easy!”, she immediately replied.
“Many years ago I was heading to a singing audition. There was a tube strike so I had to get the bus. In fact I had to get 4 buses, and this was when you needed bus timetables and an A-Z to find your way around. No Google Maps back then! After the first bus was delayed, and I missed the second, I knew I would be late. I had a decision to make. I nearly went home and gave up on the audition, but something inside me said to phone ahead. So I found a phone box and gave them a call. They said to come anyway.”
At this point it was clear to me where this was going. I assumed that, despite turning up late, she took part in the audition and got the best singing role of her career, which catapulted her to all her subsequent success.
But I had it all wrong. The question was much more powerful than I could have imagined.
She continued, “And it was at that audition that I met my now husband, and he has been 100% the best thing in my life ever since.”
The single most important thing in her life came from a decision about whether to get another bus to an audition, or go home.
And then here she was not taking action on her career for fear of making the wrong decision. It opened up a whole new way for her to hold decision making - a much lighter one!
Decisions can feel hard and disempowering. Here are some ideas for holding them in a more empowering way:
Let go of needing to know the outcome before deciding. None of us can predict the future
You don’t have to make “big” decisions. Make a series of smaller decisions that get you into action. The path will reveal itself
(And, if your body, mind and spirit are calling you forth to make a “big” decision, go for it!)
Follow your passions and your intuition, even (perhaps especially) if you can’t rationalise them
Hold decisions lightly. Don’t paint dramatic pictures of what your decisions mean
Treat decisions as experiments. Decide, act, see what happens, and learn
What does this mean in practice? Say, like my client, you’re wondering about your career path:
Experiment with new responsibilities in your current role
Shadow a friend or colleague for a day in their job
Take a part time job doing something radically different
Volunteer for something that intrigues you
Step into leadership in your hobbies and recreational activities
Consciously decide to double down on what you are currently doing
Or if it feels right, jump!
You have no idea where these decisions will take you. But one thing’s for sure, if you don’t make decisions and act on them, you’ll never have “best decisions” to look back on.