I would reach a crossroads and just stand there, indecisive. There, right in front of me, were multiple choices. Yet I could not decide which — if any — to choose.
I’d have an idea for something I desired to do — but indecision paralysis set in. Nothing was done, and I did not leave the crossroads.
The thing that this would teach me over the years was how to develop a guaranteed failure. When you don’t try you’ve automatically failed.
When college wound down, I stood at a pretty vast crossroads. There were several choices before me.
- Where do I go? Return to the Midwest, stay out East, go somewhere new and unfamiliar?
- Do I pursue something in my degree field, theatre?
- Should I take any job in professional radio I can get, no matter where that lands me?
- Go back to school for a grad degree and/or teaching certificate?
Initially, I decided not to decide. I stayed in my college town another year, found a couple of jobs along the way and a place to live. But it was soon obvious I had to move on.
I very nearly moved to Chicago because it would be different, and I had family there. But a job interview (for a job I REALLY wanted but didn’t get) told me I much preferred to stay out east.
Thus, I relocated to northern New Jersey — but still without making any choices about employment options.
This got me no real success — and I didn’t try all that hard to figure it out, either.
Why try anything when it might hurt?
That was my unspoken notion in the back of my head for many years. I didn’t try anything where I might risk failure. Hence, I guaranteed my failure instead.
Over the next decade-plus, I bounced from job to job, home to home, relationship to relationship. Every time I came to a crossroads I hesitated. Try this? Should I try that? If I try this instead of that — or that instead of this — what if I choose wrong and fail? Then what?
Rather than make a solid decision I made no real attempt at landing somewhere to my liking — and continued to enjoy my guaranteed failure.
The funny part is, I thought that I was staving off feeling awful for getting it wrong by not making a real choice. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. By choosing not to decide I automatically failed because I never even tried.
Again and again, I questioned my purpose, what I desired to do, who I desired to be, and why did I keep getting it utterly wrong? I was convinced that it would hurt so much to fail at it that I kept making no choice.
Ironically, I lived almost constantly with the pain of failure. The fear of it was so much worse than how it felt that I let that fear dictate my inaction.
Do or do not? Nope, not even gonna try. Can’t get it wrong if I don’t try.
But then there is the much more important other side to this coin. You cannot get it right if you don’t try, either.
Failure can be a success, too
During this period in my life, I got hit by a car crossing a street. The year of physical recovery was followed by another couple of years of mental, emotional, and psychological recovery.
I learned the hard way that life can be short and full of the unexpected. One minute you have all these plans and ideas — and then suddenly you wake up unsure how you got there and broken to boot.
More than one person has asked me — “if you could redo it, would you have avoided getting hit by the car?” Honestly — no. Because that incident changed my entire approach to life.
Though at first, my impatience paid off in how quickly mind mindset helped the doctors, therapists, and other caretakers heal my body, it prolonged my mental health healing. While I didn’t apply it often, I did learn patience through this situation.
After that accident, I began to become more philosophical about my life. You only get one shot to experience all the amazing possibilities of this world in this body. If you choose not to have those experiences you might miss out on some awesome stuff.
Yeah, you might get hurt along the way. Bones and hearts get broken. But the end result of life will be the same no matter who you are or what you do. In the end, you die and leave this body behind.
I realized that when my end comes, I would rather celebrate the chances I took and the experiences I had than to regret what I didn’t go after.
Even failure, I realized, can be success. Because there is always something to be learned from every experience, good, bad, or otherwise.
There are no real guarantees in life
To be perfectly fair, some people will choose not to choose and still win. We all know people who have things handed to them with no effort, succeed with no action, and always come out on top no matter how much the odds were against them.
Even when making no choice and creating thus a guaranteed failure situation, it was still possible to succeed. But that was not by choice — if it happened at all it was by chance.
Life is not just meant to be lived by chance.
You know who you are — I am not picking on you, but I am illustrating my example from your life. Let’s say you have an opportunity to apply for a new job. Yes, the process of taking the time to get your resume set, clean up your cover letter, and do all the steps to apply for the job can be daunting. You may go through all that effort and then fail to get the job.
Or you might go through all that effort and land your dream job.
Want a guaranteed failure? Don’t apply. Let your fear of failure overcome your desire to move on.
The choice belongs to you
No matter where you desire to go or what you want to do — you have a choice. Deciding not to decide for fear of failure is a choice — but know it is a choice for guaranteed failure.
Trust me — fear of failure if far worse than the experience. Take a chance. Even a failure can be a success because you never know what it might teach you.
Nest time you find that you are at a crossroads in your life: Will you act and make a choice — even if you might fail?
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as do choices you make — succeed or fail.
Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on September 2, 2020.