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"To act, or not to act: that is the question," as Shakespeare would have said. Decisions, decisions, decisions! According to various internet sources, an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. How mind-boggling.
The trajectory of our lives is dependent on the decisions we make. Making a commitment can sometimes be a scary proposition. The not knowing, the second-guessing, the possible regrets that sometimes follow, especially if it means committing to a choice that may change our lives forever.
Decisions usher us into the possibilities of life and allow us to make choices and changes, and participate in the act of moving our lives forward.
I have noticed that there are generally three types of decision-makers in the world we live in.
1. Those who take an incredible amount of time to make a decision.
There are decision makers like my ex. Let's call him Mark. He would sit and meditate under a tree with a decision for days. One of those who always believed he was right, so he never wanted to make a bad decision which would warrant an "I told you so." He would rather take three trips to the grocery store and leave without an item if he wasn't sure of the brand, packaging or color.
2. Those who decide way too quickly.
On the other extreme was someone like myself, one who could be called a gunslinger. I used to decide so fast that with barely the blink of an eye you won't see the choice I have made.
I was always so terrified of not taking immediate action, of not doing and regretting later, that the wrong choice to me was preferable to doing nothing at all. At least then I got to feel regret instead of panic, wondering what the outcome would have been had I sat it out and done nothing.
3. Those who fall between the two extremes.
Then there's the third kind of a decision-maker who is a happy medium between those two extremes. Most people fall in this category. Although I'm not so sure now what my friend, Frances, falls under. She's a weird one.
She doesn't make any decisions without consulting her pendulum. Not a single one. From the food she eats, to the clothes she wears, the books she reads and the hair color she decides on, each must meet the approval of the pendulum.
So, perhaps there is a fourth category for people like her?
More and more I see how most of our decisions are made from fear: the fear that we will miss an opportunity, fear of not conforming, and fear of disappointing another. Fear makes us go too fast, or too slow, and robs us of the wisdom to make an intelligent choice because we're so terrified of what might, or might not, happen.
I have come to the conclusion that regardless of what you are faced with in any single moment, knowing how to game yourself is key. When fear strikes, which it always will — when you feel your heart beat faster and your stomach churning, when you feel a shudder and a tremble that is when you must pause — breathe and step back.
The last three years, and ever since I had my car accident last year, have changed the way I look at life, the way I make decisions, my choices, and how I'm present in my world. I've also reached a place where I've decided that I'm going to pay really close attention to messages the universe sends me. Which it does. All the time.
Last week I was having lunch with three of my very dear friends at a posh restaurant in Bangkok. As we were seated and the waiter handed us our menus and placed glasses of water on coasters, I found my eyes drawn to the writing on my coaster. It read: "Most decisions can be undone."
Was the Universe saying just go ahead and make a decision, and worry about it later? That I could commit to a choice and know that it could be reversed? Wouldn't undoing the choice be painful in certain situations?
Then on the back of the large menu were the words: "Everything works out right in the end. If things are not working right, it isn't the end yet. Don't let it bother you, relax and keep on going."
I believe the Universe was telling me to have faith and not to obsess about the outcome to my decisions. Perhaps chill out, take a breather and allow my mind to sort of languish on par with the extensive heat we're experiencing in Bangkok at this time. Relax? Me?
I pondered on that one. Not a bad idea. Making a decision and trusting all will be well, then letting go, is somewhat freeing. Knowing that you have done your best with what you know at any given moment, and leaving the rest to God/the Universe, is a wonderful place to be in.
I contemplated more on this and decided that I would set myself a rule: a "72-hour pause" rule. From henceforth any important decision, the kind that is attached with fear, would require me to step back and slow down so I can gather information just to impede the process, even sleep on it for 72 hours. Perhaps even talk it out with a friend, Google the issue, read a book about it, study the pros and cons.
Anything that will keep me away from taking immediate action, sending that e-mail and telling someone off, for a whole 72 hours.
It's not going to be easy. Making decisions on the spot have been my thing, and slowing down may mean I'm procrastinating. And God forbid, the "fear" of doing nothing may not sit well. But I'm committed to this rule.
With this rule I now justify the delay by telling myself that I'm doing something:
I'm talking about the issue.
I'm reading about the issue.
I'm studying my options.
I'm meditating on my choices.
I'm just not taking action for 72 hours.
It's like flexing a muscle. Soon it'll be second nature to how I live my life. Will I succeed? I believe so. The "72-hour pause" may even change my life.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.