Imagine yourself seated down somewhere, trying to finish an assignment due in 12 hours or maybe a huge marketing presentation coming up tomorrow. While you mindlessly tap away on your computer, your mind tells you to finish it, else you’re doomed to flop out of school or your job. Familiar, aye? What boggles me is, why do we have such thoughts?
Why do we constantly use these thoughts to motivate ourselves to work harder? Simple, it is the fear of failure – the fear of not using our resources wisely and ending up not achieving anything at all. We, in our finite capabilities, conquer this fear by striving to succeed in something. If you want to be a lawyer, you would rationally tell yourself to be a good one or not be one at all. If you are into playing the piano, be as good as Mozart, or you might as well consider investing in another hobby. We revolve our decisions around the success we crave to achieve.
That being said, the art of decision-making is a tough one to master. Let’s be real, deciding on which restaurant to go for lunch is hard enough, what more the big juicy stuff? What happens after a choice has been made? It doesn’t just end there. It brings with it the whole package of doubting whether you’ve made the right choice.
Consider this scenario.
You’ve worked really hard in company ABC for the past 5 years. Sadly, you came to a saturation point in this career and your bonuses from previous projects are overdue. As a result, you feel stagnant and under-appreciated. Right at this moment, you catch yourself typing the first paragraph of your resignation letter. As you type each word, I bet you would think to yourself, ‘What if I can’t get a better job than this?’ or ‘Is this the right choice?’ Be it career or life, it is an unspoken dilemma we all have.
The beauty of it all is that no one can make the decisions for you but yourself. Decision-making is not a one-off thing. When I was looking for a job back in my hometown, I made a decision to look for a job there. I wanted to work away from home but was concerned about the cost of living. I did all the math and figured that getting a job locally would solve that problem as I can save on rent by staying with my parents. Eventually I took up a job in my hometown and the decision to stay seemed to fall into place. As the days go by, I realized that the job was not meeting my career expectations and it was testing my personal principles. I was then placed at a crossroad again — to leave the job or not.
I was struggling really hard whilst making this decision.
On one hand, I was unhappy with the nature of the job and without any career progression. One the other hand, I was worried how other people would judge when I leave my job after working for only a month. The turmoil was unbelievable. I looked at it from a long-term perspective and it was best for me to leave right at that moment than to force myself to stay for next next couple of months. So I did. Leaving my first job wasn’t the end of all the decision-making. Long story short, leaving my job led me to accepting a job away from home, paired with a bunch of other decisions like place to live, budgeting, etc., that led me a job that gives me life and career satisfaction as this moment.
At that point of time, I saw myself accepting the job in my hometown as a huge mistake. It not only got me nowhere to what I wanted to pursue, it put in a socially difficult position as I had to endure the never ending question of ‘Why did you quit your job so quickly?’ Despite that, this incident made me open up to working away from home, leading to where I am today. When you think you’ve made a bad decision, don’t feel discouraged. Take it as a lesson and make a better one when another comes around.
It is difficult to make a decision when you don’t have something you are working towards. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, we make decisions based on what we want to achieve through it. The question is, what is success? If we have no idea what success looks like to us, we will struggle making those decisions. Think of it as a story you want to tell the world. While you’re taking a long shower, it’s good to clear your mind and think about how you want your success story to be like. It wouldn’t hurt to draw some inspiration from famous figures and their success stories.
I think how you go about decision-making is important. A lot of decisions I face, I don’t immediately know what the right answers are. If I’ve got the time, I let those decisions come to me. You need to feel decisions as well as think them; they have to make sense both intellectually and emotionally. Then once you know what the answer is, you move quickly.
Once you know what you want, don’t hesitate.
Even when decisions are tough to make, think the success you want for yourself and reach for it. If you aspire to be start an animal shelter, do it! Take a veterinary course, get yourself connected to the right people and save up some money. If you want to become a certified accountant, do it! Get the necessary qualifications, go to the nearest career fair to you and look for your job options. If you need emotional support, surround yourself with the right company with similar ambition. Do whatever it takes to get you where you need to be, even if it means making an impossible choice.
Decision-making is not as hard as it seems. Be success-driven and let the decisions revolve around that you aspire to accomplish. Then one day, you’ll have a success story of your own to offer to the world.
“When all your efforts are channeled through a common canal for progress, no condition can alter a single sentence of your success story! Dream it; Drive it; Be in focus!”
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