When Plan A Just Isn't An Option
This week, while cruising my Facebook feed, I noticed a friend had posted, “Not feeling good about a decision.” No explanation, no context. The comments which followed were a mix of advice, commiseration, and a few, ‘Just move on.’ The majority of the comments were a variation of, “Then change it.”
The post actually caused me to pause and reflect about the decisions we make. In big and small ways along a continuum from “Doesn’t Matter” to “Life Changing,” we make decisions every day. ‘Do I have a Caramel Macchiato today, or a Toffee Nut Latte?’ ‘Will I wear the black shoes or my black boots?’ ‘Do I take the Bentley this morning or the Lamborghini?’ (I totally made that one up…my choices would be, ‘Do I walk or ride my bike?’) These are the minutiae of our daily decisions. While we often agonize over making decisions for fear of making a mistake, the reality is that very few decisions we will make in life are final.
Have you ever thought about that?
Really, there are very few choices we will make in life which cannot, in some way, be revised, revisited, revamped, reworked, revoked, or reversed. This is what makes life interesting. If we really believed that we can modify, or alter the way that life is going, how would we live? If we’re not committed to this option or this choice for the rest of our days, how much more adventurous might we be?
Right now – think about a decision you’ve been putting off because it feels difficult, or too big, or too permanent. What keeps you from making a choice? Do you need help with the decision-making process itself? Try this…
Do an If/Then list. “If I choose ___________ then… what? What will happen? Be detailed, be thorough. The possible benefits and the possible catastrophes.
Make a Plan B. Write yourself an ‘escape clause.’ A “get-out-of-jail-free” date that you keep in your back pocket in the event that the new thing sucks. If the decision is one that you regret, you know there’s an end to it – a point at which you will ‘Exit Stage Left.’ Plan for this contingency.
Use a timer. Set the timer for an hour or two. Consider all parts of the problem and then when the timer rings, make a decision. Implement it.
That process applies to pretty much every decision you’ll ever make. What fear is keeping you from making a decision to start/stop doing something? There are really only a few fears, common to humanity which, when distilled, all equal “insecurity.” a) What will other people think? b) What if I fail? c) What if I don’t have what I need? d) What if… poverty? …pain? …shame? …embarrassment?
These fears do not a good life make.
I’m sure I’ve used this quote before, but it’s worth saying again. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in spite of it.” If you really believed the decisions you make are not written in stone, what would you decide?
We have one life.
Read that again. We get ONE life. This is not a dress rehearsal for something else. There’s no spare in the trunk. What will you regret not doing? If you were planning to live forever, I have bad news. Your life will be significantly shorter than that. Imagine; What if you learned that your life will be much shorter than you expected? How would you make decisions then? What would no longer be important? What would become very important?
Hopefully, that won’t happen… but how would your perspective shift if it did? What would happen to those fears then? What decisions would fall completely off your list? What decisions would suddenly become vital?
If this opportunity turns out to be less than expected, at what point will you give yourself permission to revise, revoke, rework, or retool your original decision?
What would your life look like if you lived like ‘Plan B’ is a viable option?
Think about it, then Go. Do. The. Thing.
Dr. Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg, RPC, MPCC-S, DAAETS, ACS
Originally published in bazaar Kuwait 04.12.2017 (Edited)