“How do I make decisions?”
A friend, going through a rough period, recently asked me that question, and the yearning behind her question, deeply resonated within me. I’m sure that to some people, that question may seem ludicrous. It may seem insane…but understand that what my friend is really asking is,“How do I learn how to trust myself? How do I learn how to understand myself, and know what decisions I should be making? How do I make the right decisions? How do I know what’s right, or wrong, for me?? How do I become myself?”
If you’re not sure of who you are, what you believe in, or if you’ve been conditioned to constantly doubt yourself, to feel yourself inadequate, than any decision, from what you’d like for lunch, to whether or not you should attend grad school, can become momentous. If you don’t trust yourself, how could you trust the validity of your choices? In that scenario, seemingly minor decisions can appear to be harbingers of doom. How many of us, when faced with choices—whether it’s what to do on a Friday night, or the decision to ask for a promotion-become overwhelmed, and shut down? How many of us presume that our choices are going to be wrong, and so, through fear and despair, we choose to stay stuck?
How do you make decisions? It’s a process, a process of discovering yourself, your values, of making mistakes, and learning from your own mistakes. It’s the process of understanding that mistakes are normal. It’s a process of listening to yourself, discovering yourself, and making friends with yourself. It’s a process that should begin with the decision to forgive yourself.
I, for example, started this coaching business after graduating from law school. Those three years had truly been horrendous, primarily because I went for all the wrong reasons. I went for the fantasy of how a law degree would fix my life, as opposed to the reality of, you know, being interested whatsoever in practicing law. In hindsight, of course those three years were destined to suck. When you’re doing something you’re not interested in, how exactly is that supposed to work out?
One of the lessons that experience taught me, was that if I make choices for the wrong reasons, those choices are doomed to fail. Starting a business, on the other hand, was terrifying, but it was something that had obsessed me, for almost a decade, by the time I launched. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t make mistakes (*laughs bitterly*) but because I was doing this for me, those mistakes were part of the process. Those mistakes were exhausting, frustrating and tedious…but in the long run, they didn’t really matter. I made a decision. I decided to do what I could, with what (little) I knew, and step-by-step, keep (somehow) moving forward. That decision led to other decisions, some good, some bad. Eventually, the more good decisions I made, and learned from, the less bad decisions I made. As I write these words, my framed diploma hangs over my desk. I’m proud of that diploma.
However, if I hadn’t learned my own (self-created) mistakes, that diploma would probably make me sick, since it’d be another reminder of making poor choices and my inability to learn from them. If in 2008, I had decided, that well, being a lawyer was hellish, but I had already spent all this money, so whatever, I’m going to ignore my gut, and take the bar again and keep trying…oh dear god. I remember, as I was
freaking the f**k out brooding about what my next move should be, a friend said, rather impatiently, “Well, of course, it’s simple: just take the bar again. I mean, you went to law school to become a lawyer…right?” As soon as she said that, I thought, “Um actually, not really.” I went to law school for many (crappy) reasons, but actually practicing law was not one of them. I went to law school for the prestige, for someplace to be for three years, for a way to avoid making decisions. I went to law school because I was burnt out on TV news, and needed a place to hide, and lick my wounds. I went to law school, because I didn’t have the courage to make effective changes in my life. At that moment, I knew that while I had no idea what being an entrepreneur really meant, I could not make another poor decision and seriously expect that it would end up okay. I knew I had to start being honest with myself.
How do you make decisions? Start by making the decision to know yourself. It’s likely that deep within you, already exist the answers you’re seeking. Are you ready to find what you’re looking for? Are you ready to accept yourself and your own genuine truth? Make that decision.
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