When my dad was teaching me how to drive, there were several skills he aimed to instill in my 16-year-old brain. Don’t ride the brakes, don’t jerk the steering wheel back to center after making a turn, use your mirrors, watch your speed and use cruise control whenever appropriate.
During one particular practice session, we were stopped at a four way stop. It was unclear who had the right of way and as people tried to work it out with a series of gas, break, gas, break, hands in the air in that “WTF?” motion…it created this cluster of confusion, stress and road rage for everyone involved. He sternly lectured me, “When executing a traffic judgement, DON’T EVER hesitate. Make your decision, commit, and follow through. Hesitation is what causes accidents.” This one particular point of wisdom has stuck with me ever since.
Today, when I’m faced with the pressure of making a decision, these words echo in my head…
Make your decision, commit, follow through, and DON’T hesitate.
Despite the reverberation of these words throughout my life, I once was a terrible decision maker. Sitting down in a restaurant, menu in hand, I would encounter an unnecessary internal panic, trying to decide what I wanted to order. I have stood in a store for over an hour deciding between two colors of red nail polish. That’s an hour I can’t get back, and numerous potentially relaxing and pleasant social outings overshadowed by worry.
A year and a half ago, when my life completely changed, I didn’t know what the next step would be. I avoided conflict at all costs. I opted to metaphorically sit in the passenger seat of life rather than get behind the steering wheel and determine my destination. I was making the obligatory choices but not the autonomous ones that would set me free. I felt like I was being pushed, heels dug in, head turned away from the road in front of me. I was scared. I didn’t want to face the uncertainty of my life. So, I didn’t commit to anything. Even the essential decisions were smudged with reluctance.
I discovered that I wasn’t living. I was merely existing. I mistakenly thought that evading my future was easier. But what I didn’t account for was that it meant carrying the heavy weight of indecision, and a persistent feeling of anxiety that accompanies powerlessness. I couldn’t take it anymore. Mere existence, just wasn’t going to cut it. Not only did I not want to waste any more time playing life small, I had two little ones looking to their mother for reliable guidance and leadership. I wanted to be brave not only for myself, but for my kids.
Someday, my hope for them, is that they live wholehearted and courageous lives. I hope that they have the confidence to make decisions and completely own them. If they can assume the responsibility and the outcome of their decisions, they’ll subsequently learn to follow through and adapt. Adaptability strengthens resiliency. Resiliency will ensure their survival, success, and their ability to thrive in the various settings of their lives.
It’s daunting to make decisions but they can be the beginning of a pretty incredible reality. Everyone experiences self-doubt and a fear of failure in some form. Nobody wants to choose “wrong”. The truth is, the decision and course of action you take may not always turn out the way you intended. It may sometimes yield the opposite result you were anticipating. But one thing is for certain…hesitation and lack of commitment almost always will lead to needless injury to yourself and quite possibly anyone involved.
When we don’t make a distinct committed decision on even the simplest of things, we become flooded with a multitude of alternative options. The “decision-making-drawing-board” becomes cluttered with what ifs, unmade choices and prospective results. All of this extra information destroys clarity and confidence, creating a really challenging, if not impossible platform for problem solving.
How did I hone my decision making skills? I practiced. To be good at anything, you have to practice! I started making quick decisions and embraced the results. I assessed my options, I listened to my gut instinct, and I committed. Not half-assed, but 110% commitment. (“I’ll have the salmon!!!” I scream at the waitress all too enthusiastically.) Not all of my decisions turned out the way I anticipated or even the way I wanted but I learned from the decisions I did make. I also realized that there was going to be ample opportunities to choose again.
Making ONE decision led to another, and then another, and all of a sudden my life started to unfold…
I also practiced eagerness in taking action. One of my greatest habitual hindrances is waiting for the perfect conditions to take action. Often when the ambience of my situation isn’t to my predilection, I procrastinate. Inaction is the byproduct of my lack of commitment. The only solution to breaking the aversion to start, is to get brazen and take the leap. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, “Done is better than perfect” but this is exactly what I think about if I’m dawdling on a blog post idea or completing a “To Do” list. I have to start before I feel ready or I may never start.
When making changes in your life, you are getting behind the wheel and powerfully driving your life. This is an extremely brave thing to do. Certain resolutions are going to require some really hard work. The difference between the successful and the ineffectual, is commitment. Successful people, commit to their choice and consciously decide to not look back because failure is not an option.
Set a goal, make the decision, and go after it like there isn’t any other alternative but to succeed. And whatever you do, DO NOT HESITATE. Commitment illuminates the next step. Go after what you want with complete conviction and everything will undoubtedly fall into place.
“DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT” and A DECISION is better than NO DECISION.