If you want to get better at making good decisions practice making your own decisions. Maybe you’re lucky and you already make good decisions. Maybe you don’t need to make good decisions because you are good at football, baseball, and lacrosse, darts and basketball, and poker, golf, and chess. The rest of us learn to make good decisions by making decisions. Lots of them, every day. Most are small and less risky like whether to wear the same jeans I wore yesterday (and the day before). But some are big life changing decisions and I’m here to tell you that it’s better when you decide for yourself what to do before listening to advice. LeVar Burton said it best!
Solving my own problems makes me feel confident. I can look back and see the road blocks and speed bumps behind me and know I’m heading down the path of my own choosing. It’s empowering to own my own mistakes and fix them, or not. I don’t have to blame anyone for mistakes that I made on my own. I’m solution focused because blaming myself is a waste of time.
If you’re still reading allow me to pontificate. Here is some of the advice I have ignored:
What they said: “Don’t quit high school and start college early.”
I quit high school and spent my time at the community college instead. Missing out on the high school experience was my payment for a college degree and learning how to navigate the academic system 2 years before my peers. I ended up hiring a few of them as interns at my first career position. That was satisfying.
What they said: “Don’t go to work at a startup right out of college.”
My first job for a startup was not stable, had poor benefits, and did not build my network or clout. What it did was teach me more about how startups work and that led to my confidence working remote. I also learned that I love working with startups. Seeing my effect on a company is more rewarding than the golden handcuffs.
What they said: “Don’t get married young.”
But I did. My wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life. Some would say I made the biggest mistake of my life. We got divorced. But I still remember the good times and what I learned about myself along the way. I’m a better person for having that relationship and I know a lot more about what I want now.
What they said: “Don’t leave Seattle and live in an RV.”
I’m writing to you now from the dinette table a few feet from steering wheel and two bucket seats. Tonight I watched the sun set over the Rocky Mountains and every night I get to sleep in my own bed. My personal and professional network is in Seattle. I turn down opportunities on a regular bases because I’m out of town. But this adventure is important to me and because of lessons learned by making decisions for myself I am confident that I will return to my Pacific Northwest homeland full of life and love.
My singer-songwriter hero, John Grant, has a song I wish I could send back in time to my high school self:
I wish that confidence was all you could see in my eyes
Like those interviews in locker rooms with talented sports guys