The Power of Deciding
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. —W.H. Murray
I can remember the moment when I decided to bet on myself. It was early January of 2015 and I’d just found out that my contract with the Buffer team would not be offered as a permanent position. It was a shock to me at the time. I took to my shower and cried for 20 minutes.
It was not the first time that I thought I’d had my life planned out for me and then: PLOT TWIST. Ugh.
Underneath the din of my Clever Brain screaming at me for being a failure and not doing it right, and being an idiot for thinking that it was turning out WHEN CLEARLY IT WASN’T, I heard my Quiet Voice say, “You need to go full-Amy, full-time.”
This was a bit startling. And while my Clever Brain’s immediate reaction was to squawk with disgust at the stupidity of this idea, I also had a knowing: My Quiet Voice, per usual, was right.
I had no idea what the hell “full-Amy, full-time” looked like. I knew that it included me taking this whole progress mapping thing seriously and making a go of it. And that was terrifying.
It meant that I would be taking my own stuff and putting it out into the world. And SELLING it. For money. Money that I needed to support myself.
I had no idea if I could really support myself on my own off my own ideas.
And yet. The moment I heard those words, I decided to give it my best shot.
That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Which is not to say that it was the first time I’d heard about this notion of deciding. It’s not to say that I hadn’t kicked the idea around before to one degree or another. It’s just that until that point, I hadn’t summoned the courage to actually take myself seriously.
Here’s the thing that I didn’t get for a long time. And a thing that I think most of us miss. To decide—to commit to bringing our light into the world, be it our creativity, knowledge, self-expression, experience, etc.—we do not need to have a plan. We do not need to know how it’s going to happen. Or who all will help us. Or even what it’s going to look like. We just need to decide.
Until that point, I hadn’t fully committed. I had dabbled to various degrees over the years. I had pursued some of my ideas on the side. I had sketched out concepts. I had created a blog. I even created an online sanctuary. I just hadn’t even gone “all in” on myself.
That takes courage. A lot of courage.
Deciding is different than drastic action. They may or may not be related. Deciding doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job or move to a different country or leave your relationship. It could. Or that could be part of how things unfold. But it certainly doesn’t have to be.
For this kind of deciding is not a reaction. It’s not a defense. It’s not a distraction. It’s a deeply held commitment to honoring yourself. To honoring what you know, what you feel, and what you believe. It’s a powerful thing to choose yourself and bet on your light. For the stakes are high.
And what really is at stake? I think it’s our souls. At least it was for me.
For I think many of us figure out the rules for being successful at the game of life, as dictated by our family and society. We learn what’s expected of us, what we’re supposed to do, the job we’re supposed to seek, the person we’re supposed to find, the money we’re supposed to make, and the stuff we’re supposed to buy with it. And we do those things. We try so hard.
Yet for some of us, we do all that and realize that we’ve committed ourselves to pursuing a life that doesn’t actually deliver what we’d hoped it would. We don’t have that sense of meaning and fulfillment. We don’t feel connected. We might look successful, we just don’t feel it.
Looking back now, I can see that’s where I was at in January 2015. Thank God I wasn’t a fit for Buffer. Thank God I had my meltdown in the shower and heard my Quiet Voice speak the truth. Thank God I decided to honor my own light.
For life has taken on such meaning since. That does not mean it’s been easy or without fear or financially stable or that I’ve been able to avoid discomfort. Not at all. But each day has meaning. Because I feel like in deciding, and honoring that decision over and over, I’ve come alive.
And for me, coming alive is sustained by helping other people come alive. Which is why I wanted to share this bit I recorded recently.
Notes on this recording: I recorded this a voice memo while I was driving to return a movie I’d rented from RedBox. I share that because it’s important for me to make clear how my creative ideas often come to me while I’m doing the mundane stuff of adulthood. So I’ve learned to capture them using things like voice memos. Until now, I’ve not shared them publicly. I thought I needed to do something to do them to make them shareable. Like transcribe them (which I sometimes do), or edit them, or further form them into something more presentable. To have better sound quality. Instead, I’m going to share this as-is.
I also want to point out that I don’t know specifically whom I’m talking to when I record these. I’m speaking to you. To my Tribe. My Tribe is comprised of those I can best serve, whether I’ve met them or not. Whether they know who I am right now, or not. I mention this because I want you to create your own version and don’t want your Clever Brain to convince you that you have to know who you’re speaking to. You don’t. You may not know until you’re speaking. The point is: Just start speaking.
What follows is the actual transcript which sounds better than it reads. I’ve inserted brackets to make it a bit more readable.
[I] was thinking about what it means to decide. When you fully commit to yourself and what it is that you’re here to create. Even if you don’t know entirely what [it] is that you’re here to create, but [maybe] have an idea. You have something that you want to pursue. You don’t know if it’s going to turn out. But there’s something in you, [that’s] on a deeper level and won’t let it go. [It] just kind of pulls you.
When you have that sort of creative pull in you—in that there is something for you to create—I think your well-being depends on you answering that call.
I really think it matters that much.
When you commit to exploring that, when you say to yourself, “Ok, I have no idea how I am going to do this and I’m fucking scared. [And] yet: I am going to commit to doing this and seeing it through. And seeing what happens.
When you do that, then I think there’s a shift. When setbacks happen, when things are disappointing, when failure happens — I describe failure as when things don’t go the way you want them to go — it’s OK. Because you’ve committed. The decision’s been made.
So it’s just a matter of, every day, [taking it] one day at a time, one next right step at a time, and bringing yourself back. Over and over and over again to the commitment that you’ve made to yourself.
When I did that, [it] was a huge change in my life. Some of it I think is obvious. Some of it, I think people who’ve known me for a very long time (family and my friends), can detect a certain level of that. I think at another level it’s perhaps not obvious to anyone but me.
But I know—and me knowing is enough.
[Making that decision] has grown as a human [and] as a woman. I have a new confidence that I didn’t really claim before I put my stake in the ground. I’ve decided that I’m bringing this thing: this idea of Human Lights, of Progress Maps, of Time to Win, [and] Self-Care Love Affair. All of these things that collectively represent what I want to give. And what I hope will serve people who are here to use their life in a meaningful way. In a way that serves other people.
So, that decision? It’s really important.
Really, really important. And [as far as your life goes] you’re the only one that can do it. Once you make that decision, you’re the only one who can keep it. And that, I think, is most powerful. Because it’s not something that anyone can take from you.
You deciding is enough. It’s the beginning of things changing for the better.
Next right steps
What I think is most powerful about deciding to believe in yourself and what you’re here to give is that you’re the only one who can do it. This is a deeply personal commitment. You don’t need permission. You don’t need to check with anyone. To decide, the only support you need is your own. Which is exciting and terrifying, no?
When it comes to whatever it is that you most want to give on this planet, whether it’s something concrete, like art or a product, or something more abstract, like love and connection, you’ve got to be willing to commit to sourcing it. Because you’re the only one who can give it.
So I recommend asking yourself, as you consider deciding — and just making the commitment to yourself that you’re going to take action—you ask yourself: am I coming from love or fear?
Are the thoughts you are weighing, about really going after what you most want, coming from fear? Because if they are, you’ll probably decide not to decide. And you’ll stay where you are. That is absolutely an option.
And yet, if those thoughts are coming from love, from a place deeper and quieter than that of your own fears, you might come to realize the decision is easier than you think. Because staying where you are is simply at odds with who you really are and the light you’re here to bring.
The important thing to remember is: The choice is always yours and only yours.
You get to decide for yourself.
If you’ve got something pulling at you
I want to hear about it. I want to know what light it is that you’re here to bring. And what might be getting in the way of you deciding to honor that for yourself. We can do this in what I call a Spark Session, a session that will soon cost $500, but for the time being is my gift to those who are ready to decide. // Find out about the Spark Session