Don’t Make Things Complicated
Think of a difficult decision you’ve been putting off for a long, long time. Something that’s really hard to have to deal with, and so you’ve been putting it off forever.
Sit with the emotions that decision stirs up for a minute. Think of why it seems so scary, so complex, so hard to deal with.
And then listen with an open mind when I tell you-you’re probably blowing it out of proportion. (I know. I do it all the freaking time.)
Just because a decision is hard doesn’t mean it is complicated.
Big decisions often seem like the hardest things in the world, but that difficulty is often self-generated because we add all this baggage around it. We worry about all the “fallout” from the decision, and we let that create this ominous Cloud of Crazy that shields us from ever making a decision.
Here’s an example: About 6 months ago I quit my day job after being in the computer industry for over a decade. I liked the paycheck but hated the work experience (I realize now that I’m patently unemployable because I just hate taking orders).
So the decision was simple (but hard): Work my ass off to build a business that would give me freedom.
But as I got closer to making it real, the decision became really complicated and emotional:
- I’ll have to do all this business paperwork, and I have no idea where to start.
- What will all the people who depend on me at work do? I was pretty central to the operation, so I knew that it would be hard to replace the roles I filled.
- How would I feel about leaving my team? I hated my job, but I loved the people I worked with.
- How would I train a replacement to do the things I did, the way I did them?
- What would I do about insurance? And taxes? And this and that and the other thing?
- What would my friends think? Would I still have friends?
- What would my relatives think? Would they give me constant flack?
… and so on, and so on. The thought of quitting work became a hugely stressful event because I worried about the “fallout,” and it helped me do just enough self-sabotage that I kept myself a safe distance from having to make a decision.
But it’s not the fallout that matters. It’s the decision.
Ultimately, I had to face the fact that I just couldn’t live in that job, in that industry anymore. It was crushing me & bleeding my will to exist out a bit more each day, and I reached a breaking point where I realized that I couldn’t not make the decision.
The fallout didn’t matter. Well, sure, it mattered in that it was important to deal with, and it was real, but it wasn’t a valid excuse to avoid making the decision:
Either do something unsatisfying with the rest of my career … or do something I love.
Once I focused on that (and told myself I could handle the fallout when it came), the decision was made.
Walking in and giving notice was a very hard thing to do, but it wasn’t complicated. It was dead simple. Either-or.
The thing is, you can handle the fallout. Really.
Here’s the deal – scary “end of the world” things are rarely as bad as we make them out to be.
We survive. Others survive.
The world doesn’t end because we had to make a decision that inconvenienced ourselves (or others).
And sometimes it’s like a band-aid – it hurts like hell while you’re tearing it off, and then it feels better.
In fact, sometimes everyone ends up better off, because there’s a relief, a closure in the decision being made. You can finally move on. Everyone else, can too.
(And as surprising as it was to me, my day job team still survived after I left. Who knew!)
Life goes on. And often time, it gets better.
Focusing on the fallout is a convenient distraction, and that keeps you safe from making decisions.
It’s not easy to compartmentalize the fallout and really take a long, hard look at the simple-but-painfully-hard decision.
But if you want to move forward, it has to be done.
Think of a decision you’re avoiding. Ask yourself if you’re focusing on the fallout, and using that as an excuse to avoid the decision.
Life is pretty tough. Please don’t make it harder on yourself. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for, and I have my suspicions that you’ll rise to the occasion.
You get to live this life exactly one time, and you don’t want to look back 10 years from now wishin you had the stones to make the tough call.
If it helps, imagine that you had a friend that was struggling with this decision, and you could truly look at it objectively. What would you tell them? Then tell yourself.
Easy? Hell, no.
Complicated? It doesn’t have to be.
Easier said than done? Hell, yes. But that’s not an excuse for not doing it.