I am suggesting that the under the right conditions you cannot choose the wrong path to take. I say “under the right conditions”, because I’m not intending this to be a categorical statement. Like virtually all advice in self-development and human behavior in general, there are exceptions and counter-examples. So just let me say right up front, if your child chooses the path of a heroin addict, I’m not going to argue they didn’t choose the wrong path.
However, in a broad range of adult choices under the right conditions, when you come to a point where you make a decision to take one path vs. another, I’m suggesting that there is no wrong choice. When you are deciding whether or not to change careers, whether to continue a relationship or start a new one, whether to start a business, retire, take up a new hobby, become a world-traveler, or a million other choices; whatever you choose is not wrong, even in hindsight.
This can be the case if you take the right attitude and mindset into these decisions. You have the power to make these decisions in such a way to ensure you cannot make a bad choice. When we come to important decisions in our lives we tend to worry we are going to make a mistake. We start obsessing over all the pros and cons. Should I or shouldn’t I? We sweat over all the “what if’s”. The problem with this type of thinking is that you can’t predict the future anyway and there are so many variables of which you cannot possibly be aware. So why obsess over it like it is a life a death decision when it is not? Even if it was you aren’t going to know any more than a good guess so why make yourself miserable agonizing over the decision?
Since you can’t have the all the information and since you can’t predict the future, you are putting way too much weight on the validity of your analysis. Insisting that you must be perfect, that you cannot make a mistake, that the world will come to an end if you choose incorrectly, you set yourself up for making the “wrong” choice in your own mind. Then once you make the decision, you will continue to second guess it, wondering if you chose correctly.
You can’t possibly know what experiences you would have had if you had chosen differently. Life is too contingent for that kind of after-the-fact-it-might-have-been obsessing. Suppose you change jobs and then start wondering if you made the right decision? If you had stayed at your previous job, you might have been killed in a car wreck on the way to work. The company may have been bought out and you may have been laid off in a recession. You may have been assigned to a new supervisor who made your life a living hell. You might have met someone, got involved, and spent years in a messy relationship. You might have become the CEO. You might have met your soul-mate. Who the hell knows? You will never know so forget it.
A Better Way
There is a better way. There are two (or more) different paths you can take and you choose one. Because you choose the way you do, you will have different experiences than if you had chosen differently. Not better or worse experiences, just different experiences.
Going into the decisions you need to accept that either way you choose you will gain experiences from which you can grow. Even if you choose a status quo path, you can change the way you approach it. If you choose to stay at your current job you can go into it with a whole new attitude and approach. When you lay out pros for each choice you can look at those as the positive “good choice” benefits of either path. Whichever way you go, you can make the best of it. Whatever happens you can deal with it. Come what may you will be gaining life experiences that will contribute to your growth. You can demonstrate the resilience and adaptability that allow you to live and experience a rich and rewarding life.
Furthermore these decisions are not the end of the story. You continue to create your life as you go along. Once you take a step down a path you continue to choose. At every step you have another choice to make. It never ends. Staying with the job example, if you choose to remain in your current job you always have the option of making a change at any future date. If you make a change and take a new job, you will be faced with the same situation. You always have the option of making a change at any point. Choices are not permanent.
Taking this approach to our choices allows us to avoid being paralyzed by fear. We can tell ourselves that no matter what choice we make, it is a good choice and that we can dance with our life’s circumstances. We can stop second guessing about what might have been and that we can never know. Whatever happens we can deal with it. There is no situation we can’t handle. This is an approach to a rich and rewarding life instead of a life filled with worry and regret.
Decide and Then Act
It’s really simple.
- Gather the information.
- Evaluate the options – don’t overanalyze what you can’t know anyway.
- Make sure that your choice lines up with your values and goals.
- Give it your best judgment.
- Trust your gut because your subconscious mind knows a lot.
- Go for it and don’t look back. No regrets. Don’t sweat the past – it’s gone.
- Adjust as you continue to step forward.
- Repeat at the next fork in the road.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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