At the beginning of this year, I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life, that was: should I go back to university or go all in on my writing business?
Of course, there were risks associated with both. On one hand, going back to university could’ve been considered the “safer” option. I wouldn’t have had to worry about cash flow or many other realities of life.
However, there still would’ve been risk involved. To quote Randy Komisar,
“The most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
That was not a place I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to spend my life living and working on my own terms rather than being cooped up in a cubicle at some accounting firm.
The issue? I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t end up as a starving artist if I went all in on my writing dream. At the time, I was barely making enough to survive, let alone thrive.
Despite such a fact, I looked at what I really wanted from my life and asked, which decision is most congruent with those values? There was also a quote from Peter Theil that pushed me over the edge:
“One of the strange paradoxes about education is that it’s actually become a way to avoid thinking… Formal education has become a way to be on autopilot, and not to think about what you want to do with your life.”
Evidently, I did decide to commit to my writing dream and immediately made an investment to solidify that commitment — I signed a 6-month contract to pay $240 /month for a desk at my local co-working space.
From those two decisions came two unforeseen events: 1) I started to write some of the best articles I’ve ever written. 2) People started to reach out to me asking if I could write for them.
You could say that necessity really is the mother of invention. Or perhaps, it was put best by historian Will Durant,
“I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.”
The only reason I tell you this story, is that it explains exactly how to make big decisions that change the trajectory of your life:
1. Make the decision based on what you really want in life.
You don’t make it based on what’s easiest in the moment. What has the less risk. Or even what other people expect of you. Instead, you do what’s right for you and let the consequences follow.
You know that the greatest risk is not to try and fail, but to not live a life true to you.
Of course, this will not always be easy nor convenient. In fact, your subconscious will probably try to convince you to take a lesser path.
Wrote Robert Brault,
“We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”
But this is not how you build confidence, and nor is it how you live a life you love. Indeed, it’s wiser to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.
2. Invest in that decision.
Tony Robbins has said, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”
Moreover, if you haven’t invested in that decision, you haven’t truly decided. You haven’t got enough conviction to tell yourself that you’re truly committed. Instead, you’re still emotional sure. You’re weighing up your options.
But a true decision literally means you cut off your options. You invest in that decision and reach your point of no return.
You stop thinking about what could happen, and instead see what does happen.
You don’t attach to an outcome and worry about having made the right or wrong choice, instead you trust in your decision and see where it takes you.
You know that you’re either going to fail big or succeed big and it doesn’t scare you because you can always pivot.
To quote Ryan Holiday,
“Scared about making the wrong choice? You won’t ever know if you did. Cognitive dissonance won’t let you.”
Now, that breaks down how to make reactive and situational decisions that completely change the different trajectory of your life.
The remainder of this article will discuss perhaps the biggest decision you could make at the face of the information age of the 21st century.
Here we go.
Decide What Information You Will Consume
Many people are saying we now live in an information economy. There are certainly more options and choices you could make when it comes to what you consume today.
However, you must quickly realize the need to discern and remove yourself from most of it. For 1, you only have so much time. And 2, what you consume determines who you become. Your input determines your outlook.
Said Zig Ziglar,
“Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output, and your output determines your future.”
Thus, how you see and act in the world is entirely up to you. What you focus on expands. And hence the words of Dr. Stephen Covey, “You see the world, not as it is, but as you’ve been conditioned to see it.”
If you want to change how you see and act in the world, then you need to change what you consume. You need to make it more reflective of who you want to become, rather than who you’ve been.
And which is why I’m incredibly deliberate about what I allow shape me. As a rule, I only consume information that immediately helps or inspires me.
I don’t want to know about trumps latest tweet, that 5 kids are trapped in a cave or what the weathers doing halfway across the world. I don’t want it clouding my thoughts, shaping my output or my future.
Indeed, I’m quite willing to look clueless about a few things. Said Epictetus,
“If you wish to improve, be content to be seen as ignorant or clueless about some things.”
A true decision means you accept opportunity costs. You’re not swaying back and forth wondering about whether you made the wrong or right. Instead, you’re definitive.
You know you’ve made the right choice based on what you really want from life and let the consequences follow.
You’ve invested in that decisions and cut off all other options.
Although more than just situational decisions, the biggest and most important decision you could make right now is to what information you’ll allow yourself to consume.
How you see and act in the world is entirely up to you. Will you be distracted and confused by all the voices and options in the world, or will you be focused and driven by what truly matters?