You make a choice. One way or the other.
It’s hard to get any kind of direction in your life if you’re waiting for a path to appear in front of you. I wasted a lot of time trying to look for what I was somehow “meant” to be doing, as if there’d be some kind of a cosmic sign.
This is something people ask me quite regularly. How did I know what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do? How did I know the right road to walk down? The general theme of it tends to be, how did I know what my destiny was?
Short answer, I didn’t. I don’t. I have no idea whether this direction is even the best one for me, if I’m doing the right thing, going the right way. All that doesn’t even matter though. What matters is that I made a choice.
Nothing happens in your life, for better or worse, until you make a choice. Nothing happens until you decide what you will and won’t do.
When you’re frozen with indecision, when you’re going back and forth and wringing your hands over your career and your life, you’re not going to make any progress or move forward.
And not deciding, not just calling it, that’s the way to wind up angry and scared, because you know that something’s got to give, but you just can’t make up your mind about what.
Like any human being with a heart, I’m pretty much obsessed with the Karate Kid. In one scene that’s stuck with me, Nariyoshi Miyagi tells Daniel LaRusso that he has to make a decision whether or not he’s going to learn Karate.
He tells him that if he decides not to learn it, it’s okay. If he decides he will learn it, that’s okay too. But if he just says maybe, if he doesn’t make up his mind, it’s going to end badly.
That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got to make a call, one way or another, about where you’re going, and then commit to that decision for a period of time and follow it through.
I know when I was working on a tech startup a while ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a pretty big incubator/accelerator, and I just couldn’t decide whether or not I was going to do it.
I couldn’t bring it on myself to just pick a path, and I think I wanted the best of both worlds — to keep working full time and earning a steady paycheck, while also building this product and company.
There’s nothing wrong with building a product as a side project, but that’s not what I was doing. I was procrastinating, and refusing to decide whether I was in or out, whether I was going to go for gold with this new idea or stick with my salary.
In the end, the decision was made for me by the other members of the team, because they couldn’t keep waiting around for me to haul my ass in and throw down the glove and make that choice.
And believe me, having the decision taken out of my hands was a lot worse than it would have felt if I’d just picked one path, even if it hadn’t turned out the way I’d wanted.
In the end, you do just have to make a decision. You don’t do it rashly, you don’t let anyone push or pull you into it, and you’re allowed to wait until you have the right information and the right data.
But you make a decision, you make a call, and then you live with it.
When you make a decision, you’re allowing in the possibility that life will fuck you up. But you’re also allowing in the possibility that you’ll do incredible things and experience incredible things. There’s no reward without risk.
The last thing I’ll leave you with — I’ve made a lot of calls. I’ve made a lot of decisions, where I’ve just gone all in. And not everything has worked. Not everything has been a success.
But which is better? To never go for anything, because you can’t decide, and get left behind?
If I can quote Alison Brie, sometimes you just have to pick a cookie and take a bite.