Maybe I’ll look back at these notes and turn them into a proposal.
Maybe I’ll have a better sense of how to handle this next week.
Maybe I’ll need this purple canary costume for an art project.
Maybe I really will cook this recipe someday. You know, when the Obamas come to dinner.
And the really insidious one….
Maybe if I wait a while, someone will decide for me.
You should make a decision because these ‘maybes’ show up as clutter
When you look around and you see a lot of clutter, what you’re seeing is a bunch of small decisions… avoided.
When you have some ‘sticky’ emails that you just can’t seem to move out of your inbox, they usually represent tough choices that you have to make.
When you have too many commitments crowded into your calendar, they’re a clear sign that you haven’t been able to say ‘NO’ often enough.
Often these decisions and choices aren’t dramatic.
Should I cc my manager on this tricky bit of correspondence, or hope it just works out?
Should I go to the kids’ baseball game or the networking dinner?
Should I get rid of this and take the chance that someday I might regret it?
Should I give my money to this worthy cause…or this other one?
The truth is, there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions.
When you don’t make a decision, problems arise
You can’t decide whether you should cc your manager or just handle it yourself, so a time-sensitive email sits ticking in your inbox for three days, until your furious manager storms into your office.
You say yes to BOTH the networking dinner AND the baseball game… and then you have to cancel one.
You don’t get rid of the canary costume, but you also don’t pack it away in the attic, so it just sits there…. junking up your once-beautiful credenza.
You don’t write a check to either non-profit organization, because they’re both equally worthy– but then those envelopes sit there in your inbox, whispering that you’re a selfish miser.
There is a huge cost to NOT making decisions
A small detail blows up into a huge crisis because it wasn’t handled in a timely way.
You end up paying for events you don’t even attend, and canceling on people you love.
Piles of things sit around, nagging you, needling you, whispering that you’re a loser…in the very spaces where you most long to relax and rejuvenate.
Even though you have plenty of money, you careen between feeling guilty and worrying that you’re not using it well.
There is a HUGE cost to not making choices. It costs you time, money, and peace of mind. It adds weight to your mental load. It can fray relationships, nerves, and your sense of integrity.
So why do we resist making decisions?
Because each choice, no matter how tiny, involves a tiny twinge of loss.
If you taste the chocolate, you don’t get to taste the pistachio.
If you take path A, you miss out on finding out about how path B might’ve turned out.
It takes courage to say “This instead of that.” It can feel scary, wild, free, terrifying.
Dr. Marilyn Paul writes, “Sometimes we hold on to things to avoid the grief of acknowledging that we are at a crossroads. When we let go, we are forced to recognize that we have made a choice, that we can’t do everything in life. We are always making choices, letting go of the path that we won’t follow. That is the nature of life. Keeping our possessions is often a way of trying to keep our many choices alive.”
This is true whether you’re clearing out your wardrobe, your email inbox, or your grandmother’s old trunk from the attic.
She goes on to ask one of the most powerful questions I’ve ever heard:
Can you see how
keeping all the options alive
can deaden your current life?
~ Dr. Marilyn Paul
There is power in CHOOSING. And when we don’t choose, we end up suffocating in paralysis.
So tell me, where are you suffering because you’re avoiding the small pain of making a choice? What would happen if you let yourself just decide something and go with it?
I’ll tell you what will happen– you will move through the world more lightly.
You will have more ease and momentum. You’ll be more powerful and focused because all parts of you will be moving in the same direction. And when you do (inevitably) take a wrong turn, you’ll course-correct more nimbly, quickly, and gracefully. You’ll move and act and dress and talk more like the powerful badass that I KNOW you are.
Every day, you get to decide whether you’ll invest in yourself, your clarity, your style, your financial domain, your home life, and your career… or whether you’ll say “Well Apartment Therapy is free, I can probably figure it out myself…maybe next month when things slow down.”
Don’t do that, my loves. When you refuse the little choices, you commit to paralysis.
So make some decisions today
Let go of the things that are probably never going to really get done; just cross ’em off your list. Proactively say no to the commitments that make everything else feel frantic. And for heaven’s sake, throw out those ratty flats and that hideous canary costume. Choose orange. Choose pink. Choose white space. Choose The Queen Sweep Master Class. Say yes. Say no. But choose. It’ll propel you forward faster than anything else I know.