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This is why making a choice is so hard

By July 12, 2022September 21st, 2022No Comments

“Wrestle” by Scott Griffin. I keep this piece of art right by my desk

The two hard things about making a choice

The author Peter Block said that one of the acts of being an adult is the willingness to make decisions. Others have said the same about leadership.
When the moment comes, will you make the call?

Of course, not all decisions are equal. Most of us figure out the minor stuff easily enough. Pasta tonight, not pizza. A beach vacation, not one spent skiing. The shirt with bananas on it, not the shirt with orchids (I appreciate that your fashion options may be different from mine).

But the harder decisions come when there’s more at stake and the “right answer” is less obvious.

Often, there IS no “right answer.” Whatever you decide is a bet against the future, a guess as to how things work out, a decision that the 51/49 call should tip left instead of right.

What keeps us stuck and afraid of the decision is not so much the thinking through of it. It’s not really about “it’s too hard” (even when the decision is wicked hard).
It’s the emotion of it. Two of them, actually.

Anxiety about what you’ve said Yes to. Have you guessed right? You’ve made the commitment. Now, what does the future hold?

Guilt about what you’ve said No to. That regret about options you’re closing down, because that opportunity won’t come again. That door has shut.

I’m trying to remember that I don’t need to solve the anxiety and guilt. Which makes it easier immediately, because they’re not solvable. What I need to do is notice them, acknowledge them, and appreciate that this is what it feels like to be an adult. This is the price I pay for having the courage to make a decision.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.