How do you know you've made the right choice?
What makes the right time ‘the right time’?
We hesitate. We weigh up possible outcomes to decide whether we should take that job, start that project, or move homes. For many of us, the decision making process is focused on trying to guarantee the right outcome.
But that’s where we get stuck.
We get stuck because none of us can predict the future - even with great advice, experience and analysis, nothing is guaranteed. Have you ever seen people follow the same, or similar paths but end up with completely different outcomes? Or worse, have you seen someone put in ‘less work’ and end up better off than someone else?
Even if we tick every box, we still step forward with partial vision. Therefore, we end up identifying the right decision in hindsight, if the outcome is enjoyable, painless or exactly what we wanted, or better.
And this is why you can end up spending weeks, months and YEARS paralysed before taking a step. Because we’ve become more focused on the outcome than what's possible in the process.
It’s more about the WHAT than the WHEN
What if making the ‘right’ choice is less about the ‘when’ and more about the WHAT: What’s at stake? What’s important? And most importantly, what are you going to do once you’ve made that choice?
I’ve been marinating on this thought for 6 months. I started drafting this blogpost back then, then filed it as I wondered whether I was losing it or being too naive. So I parked the idea.
Until this week.
This week, I came across a similar philosophy from two different, but very accomplished people. They confirmed my initial hypothesis in their own unique words
First, Seth Godin - legendary marketer & entrepreneur
Our obsession with the perfect output makes us lose sight of the process. Even though it’s common knowledge that ‘almost every element of good bread happens long before it goes into the oven’.
The second, is Tony Hseish, CEO of $1.2bn company, Zappos
(Tony also sold his first company to Microsoft for $265million when he was 25).
In his legendary book ‘Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose’ - which is one of my many current reads:
While he’s talking about poker in this example, it can be applied to how we run our lives and the risks we choose (or do not choose) to take.
How you behave once you’ve made the choice, and what you do in the process is what matters most. The process isn’t just something we endure, it’s the secret sauce to living well.
Disclaimer: of course, it goes without saying that some decisions are more obvious and easy to make. If you want to learn a new skill, get training or teach yourself. If you want to become healthier - eat better and have an active lifestyle. Those aren’t the decisions I’m talking about. I’m talking about the big, sticky, tricky decisions that you battle for weeks, months and even years to get your arms around. Those are the ones we really struggle with.