By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.
I was talking with a good friend recently about a decision I’d made, and speculating about what might have happened if I’d made a different choice. He said, “Hold on. Let me tell you something my brother told me.”
His brother, a psychologist, has helped a lot of people through tough times. I wondered what pearl of wisdom was coming my way.
It was this. “The hallmark of a good decision-maker,” he said, “is that when she chooses A over B, she stops thinking about B. It no longer exists.”
In other words, when faced with a decision between two options, choose one and forget the other.
It was like being splashed with a bucket of cold water. Suddenly I felt more awake, more present, more able to get on with the business at hand. My decision had been made, and I was only torturing myself by thinking about what might have happened if I’d chosen differently.
Two days later I had to make another important decision — not an irreversible one, but one that mattered. I consulted a few people, and I wrote several drafts of an email that explained my position. I knew that whatever I did would have consequences, at least for me, and possibly for several other people. I tried to be conscientious and respectful and friendly (because, heaven knows, I want everybody to like me, but we’ll talk about that another time).
Ultimately, it was time to write a final email and click send. And I did. As soon as I lifted my hands from the keyboard I felt that familiar wave of doubt. Had I made the right decision? Had I said the right thing?
Then I heard the voice in my head saying, “The hallmark of a good decision-maker is that when she chooses A over B, she forgets B.” It’s bold, and it’s risky, and everybody might not like me for it, but I want to be that decision-maker.
The road not taken no longer exists.
Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.
This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.