Making choices is one of the most gutsy, brave things you will ever do, and not everyone is up to the task or up to the consequences. When you reach a fork in the road, all that you have left in that moment is choices. You can choose to choose or you can choose to do nothing.
And all of it has a consequence, or lots of consequences.
This is a bumpy, gravely road. One that gives you road rash from time to time because when you’re brave enough to make choices, you’re going to fall on your face every once in a while, it’s guaranteed.
I used to want other people to make my decisions for me. For lots of reasons. But I got dragged behind a truck so many times because of my decision to not decide for myself, that I just don’t do that anymore.
I choose to choose. And sometimes I wish I would have chosen differently, so I choose to choose again. FOR MYSELF.
I try not to even ask for opinions anymore. I have found that the freedom I have been so desperately seeking requires me not just to make all of my own decisions, but to OWN my decisions I make once I make them.
And all of the consequences that come with them.
You can gather up every good and wonderful thing in the world and feel totally safe and secure. You can do all of the “right” things. But there’s always going to come a time when you’re traveling down a calm and predictable road that’s headed in the exact direction you want to be headed, and then suddenly it hits what seems like a dead end —but it’s actually a fork in the road.
What was once one predictable road is suddenly two, or three, or four . . . and you have to choose which one you will take.
A dead end would actually be easier, I think.
This is a defining moment, my friends. At least it has been for me. And for my nearly 50 years, I’ve noticed a pretty consistent pattern in both myself and other humans concerning what happens at these forks in the road.
Human beings, when faced with choices that must be made will either freeze and do nothing, submit to someone else to make the choice, or put on their big-kid undies and make the dang choice for themselves, come what may.
I realized on this road that there’s something repulsive I’ve done in the past — and in just the last few years this realization has stared me blank in the face without blinking. It’s this: I don’t want to decide, so I let others decide. And then I feel either really disappointed or really frustrated at the consequences of the decision that got made.
What a mess, and what a cop-out.
I’ve also been on the flip side of that situation — where someone wouldn’t make the choice that needed to be made, so I had to make it and then the consequences were dire and suddenly I’m in the hot seat for making a choice that others didn’t like, even though they weren’t willing to make a decision at all.
These days, I am dedicated to doing all that I can to make sure neither of those scenarios ever happen again in my realm. This is a tough commitment to make because when you have to make your own decisions, life can really kick your bootie. When you own your decisions, you’ve got to also own the consequences.
And that, my friends, is one of the great lessons of adulthood and one of the great skills of becoming a person of integrity and wisdom . . . when you don’t try to find a fall-guy for the decisions that you make or the way you behave or how your life has turned out, everything changes for the better.
Making decisions is essentially putting yourself on the line. So most people try to avoid it all costs. It’s just too risky, too uncomfortable and there’s too much accountability required.
When you choose to do things that require putting yourself on the line, or when other people do things that end up putting you out on the line, you’re gonna be the one who is responsible for the choices you make next. And the choices that you make after that. And after that. And ALL OF THE CONSEQUENCES that come from those choices.
Lots of people put themselves in positions where they either don’t have to make choices, or where they are hidden from the consequences of their choices and instead put someone else in the line of fire to live the consequences of those choices. The most destructive consequences come from people who are in positions that they accepted and chose, positions of leadership and accountability, yet they do all they can to make sure they are never responsible for any of the decisions that get made. And when poor decisions are made, they search endlessly for the fall-guy and let them die on the sword.
That is the opposite of badass.
I learned this on The Road That Forked Wildly. And I learned it in ways that left me with road rash so severe that I’m still picking gravel out of my elbows.
It’s human nature to point your finger outward when you’ve made a choice that didn’t turn out in the most advantageous or beautiful way. Lots of times our choices end up with inopportune and ugly consequences. Sometimes even devastating consequences, but if you’re gonna be a badass, you better own the choices you’ve made. Or haven’t made.
I’ve handled this both ways, unfortunately — with my finger pointed outward and with my finger pointed right at my own self. It always feels more honest and powerful to point the finger back at yourself when you’re the one who made the decision. Or didn’t make the decision.
Because bottom line — it’s becoming more and more rare for people to own up to what has happened in their life and the role they play in it. It’s becoming more and more rare for people to take responsibility for their choices and own up to them. When someone does own a poor decision, I don’t even look at the poor consequences of unfortunate choices, I just give them a standing ovation for owning up to it.
I want to be that kind of badass person.
Because sometimes you have a whole bunch of wonderful things to choose from, and the worst thing that can happen is that you wish later that you would have chosen one wonderful thing over another.
And then sometimes all you are left with is a whole bunch of really awful things to choose from, and all you can hope for is that you’ll choose the decision that is least awful.
And there will be opinions, oh so many opinions. Both as you’re making the decision and after you’ve made the decision.
What I have learned on this road of owning my own decisions is that if you are indeed going to be brave enough to make and own your own decisions, in order to do that, it’s pretty much critically necessary to go on an opinion fast. Because unless someone is going to be sharing the responsibility of the consequences of the decisions that must be made — it’s not only useless to ask for their opinion, it’s actually dangerous.
I hope to NEVER EVER EVER EVER again put the future of my life in the hands of another person who will never have to live the consequences of what must be decided.
I will sail my own ship, I will be my own captain.
I will live the hard consequences when I wish I would have chosen differently and I will live the beautiful consequences when I’ve had the courage to make decisions that yield beautiful results.
Going on an opinion fast was one of the scariest things I ever did. It was essentially breaking a very relentless addiction.
But you can’t really own your decisions unless you’re the one who made them.
And what I learned on this road is that I was the one scaring myself. I was the one making it scary. When I realized that I can pivot anytime I want, I learned the power of deciding.
Because NOT DECIDING is often the most destructive choice of all. If you’re at a fork in the road and you just decide to build a house right there in front of that fork, in this place that you really don’t want to be — just so that you don’t have to decide which road to take — you just shackled yourself.
We have to keep moving forward, and that requires making decisions. And we are all going to make decisions we wish we would have made differently. So then, we decide again. You just have to keep deciding and moving into that decision and then deciding again and moving into that decision. Over and over and over.
And own all of it, it makes the next decision easier when you own the last one. And for heaven’s sake, please stop asking everyone what you should do next. ASK YOURSELF. AND THEN ANSWER YOURSELF. AND THEN OWN THE ANSWER.
Did you ever see the video of the little boy who thought he was drowning? He was holding on to a bar and his legs were floating in front of him and he couldn’t get his footing…he just kept crying in distress and kicking his legs in the water in front of him. Then a loving person came and just moved his legs down and he realized the water wasn’t even deep, that he could stand in it easily.
That’s what it feels like when you stop asking for opinions as you’re making decisions and start owning every decision you make.
Your feet get put underneath you and you realize that you’re totally okay, you can totally stand on your own two feet and nothing is there drowning you after all, you just thought it was.
I had a severe case of fork phobia, but on this road, I learned to embrace and APPRECIATE the myriad choices that we all are able to enjoy. I learned to expect that the more decisions I made, the more risks I was taking. And the more risks you take, the more odds are that you’ll both love some of the decisions you make and you’ll learn from the ones that you wish you wouldn’t have made.
And if there were a book called “1000 Things Not To Do,” it would be every bit as valuable as the book called “1000 Things TO DO That Guarantee Success.” But there’s not a manual like that for the whole human family, because all of our lives are way too different. So we have to write that book ourselves. That means you’ve got to make at least 2000 decisions that either yield “TO DO” or “NOT TO DO.”
It’s all valuable. All of it. So get to it. Be brave. Keep deciding FOR YOURSELF. Don’t ever give that responsibility to someone else. Unless you love road rash.
So, beautiful soul
When have you been so afraid to decide that you either didn’t decide or you let someone else decide? AND
What have you learned from making your own decisions?
I loved walking this road with you. Thank you for deciding to walk it with me. Tomorrow we will set off on The Road I Didn’t Take.
I love you.
Be brave and make the choice. Just do it.