Last Sunday, I met up with one of my long-time friends from high school who was back in town for a few days. Over lattes and dessert, we got to talking about past choices, future decisions, and regrets along the way (as old friends tend to do). She was telling me that she’s at a transition point in her life and doesn’t know what the next step with her living situation or her career is going to be. She disappointed and frustrated with her job and doesn’t know if she wants to stay in D.C. or explore another part of the country. The bottom line was that she doesn’t know what the “right” decision is at this time.
That got me thinking, what makes a decision “right”, “wrong”, “good” or “bad”? Well, you might say, the outcome of the decision makes it good or bad (which is usually determined using 20/20 hindsight). I disagree though. I think that if you use every experience in your life as a learning tool, then every decision you make is a good decision because it is leading you closer to what you want.
Sound Pollyanna-ish? Let me explain…
There are plenty of decisions I’ve made in my life that might have been considered “bad” decisions. Here are a few examples…
- Starting an expensive retail store at the beginning of the recession
- Dating someone two decades older than me
- Wasting time (and sometimes money) on multiple business start up ideas
- Buying a Dell when I should have bought a Mac
You get the idea. At the time, the signs were probably there that these were not the best decisions to be making. BUT…if I didn’t make these decisions, I wouldn’t be who I am today. As painful as many of these experiences in my life have been, I wouldn’t ever take them back because I wouldn’t know everything that I know now. I wouldn’t have the tools that I need to tackle the next decisions coming up in my life. Therefore, it’s really hard to have any regrets.
Think about it…when babies first learn to walk, they don’t just stand up and get moving. They learn how to crawl. Next, they figure out how to stand. Then they learn how to balance. Then they discover how to walk. But in the middle of all that, they fall down OVER AND OVER AGAIN. That’s the essential part of the process when you learn what’s working and what’s not.
When you treat every event in your life as a learning experience, you will go a lot farther in life AND in business.
If you’re currently at a crossroad in your life (perhaps you want to quit your job??), then I’ll tell you what I told me friend, “All you can do is make the next best right decision with the information you have now. If you do that and you learn from whatever the outcome is, you literally cannot make a bad decision.”
P.S. The thumbnail image is me lost in a corn maze, in case you didn’t catch that. 🙂