Hmmm, whether to turn left or right?

In 1998 I watched the movie ‘Sliding doors’ and it’s underlying question has remained with me: how different might your life be dependent upon even the small decisions you make?

The movie follows lead character Gwyneth Paltrow’s life according to whether she does or doesn’t catch the train home after being unfairly sacked from her job. The movie shows in parallel the very different lives that would follow based upon that one small event.

Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions: from what to have for breakfast, which route to travel to work, and whether or not to ask for that promotion.  The thought that every fork in the road could lead to very different destinies could feel immobilising as we consider every possibility and outcome.

However there may also be times that by following our usual course of action our routines limit and preclude us from taking a risk with the opportunity in front of us.

The truth is that without a crystal ball we can never be 100% confident of the consequences of our decisions or how another decision may have turned out. So the lesson then is to move forward with confidence, knowing that at the time of our decision we did the best we could with the information and options we had in front of us.

When making a decision these general guidelines may be helpful:

1. List your options.  Very few situations have only one possibility – brainstorm all the possibilities, even the seemingly unrealistic or ‘silly’ ones.

2. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the options – what will be the likely outcomes? what is the ‘cost’ to you and others of the action? which outcome is likely to receive the most resistance?  why? and how could you overcome it?

3. Visualise the outcome.  Take the options you have considered and see in your mind what that decision may look like.  Consider that decision in future terms – how may you feel down the track if that was the decision you made?

4. Listen to yourself.  So often people tell me of times when they didn’t listen to their ‘gut reaction’ and regret their decision.  Whilst intuition isn’t always right for us, it is certainly can be a good starting point.

5. Implement your decision.  Here’s your opportunity to take action.  With energy and enthusiasm, take action on your decision.  Be committed to the choice you have made.

6. Evaluate your decision. This is your opportunity for learning and growth.  Was the outcome what you expected?  Would you do anything differently next time?  What would you do next time?

Clinical experience tells me that time spent in the past, in the land of regret and ‘what if’ only facilitates guilt, disappointment and depression.  You made a decision and whether or not you achieved what you hoped for, the question is: what are you going to do now? All you control is in the present.  The past is for our memories and the future is for our aspirations.

The wonder of life is that it is filled with opportunities and decisions to be made.  The doors will continue to ‘slide’, the journey is deciding which ones you will step through.

 

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One thought on “Hmmm, whether to turn left or right?

  1. Pingback: Embracing adversity … the good side to when things go wrong! | peakperformancepsychology

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