Hard Choices

I am not a risk-taker.

And because of that, I do not like making decisions. I consider every variable, consult all of the research available to me, and run any tests I can think of that could give me extra information. I torment myself mentally with all of the possible outcomes, wondering which one will result in the least chance of failure or negative consequences. This happens whether I’m choosing a sandwich off of a menu or choosing which university to attend. Big or small, decisions slow me down. And I’m working on becoming more agile.

Photo by jens-lelie at Unsplash

In Ruth Chang’s TED talk “How To Make Hard Choices” I learned something really valuable: hard choices are hard for a reason. It’s not that you’re too stupid to see the obvious, better choice. The reality is that these options might not be better or worse than one another! They might be roughly equivalent overall, even if they are vastly different.

It’s easy to overthink a hard choice, because you’re convinced that if you only dig a little deeper, the obvious correct answer will jump out in front of you. But that’s not always true! I love the exercise that Chang suggests, where you change one variable and see if it changes your perspective. I do this often and it leads to a lot less mystery in terms of which factors are truly the most important to me.

Working in the Tech world has encouraged me to be more courageous with my choices. Learning to track my progress and pivot if I need to has taken off so much of the pressure when it comes to big decisions. If something goes wrong, I’m not stuck with my original choice forever; I can be flexible and correct my course. And sometimes, you need to implement an option before you truly see if it’s the right one or not.

When I feel really stuck with a big decision I try to take a step back out of the weeds, where I love to examine and explore, and into the fresh air where I can gain a new perspective. In the end, the only wrong choice is not making one at all.

This post is a part of the Fall 2017 Support Driven Writing Challenge.


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