The society doesn’t normally support this notion — but it’s perfectly fine to change your mind. In fact, it’s often a clear sign that you’re growing and progressing on your goals.
If you never change your mind about anything, it may mean that you’re not alive. Or that you just aren’t willing to learn anymore.
I used to believe that frequently changing my mind about what I wanted to do meant that there was something wrong with me. Friends and family would reprimand me: “you can’t be constantly changing your mind!” Or offering advice: “just pick something — anything — and stick to it.”
There was a time I believed their words and I thought I needed to fix myself to live my life successfully.
The good news is that you don’t need to believe this. Because what would you rather do: stick with doing something you don’t enjoy for the rest of your life — or change your mind?
You Don’t Have to Embrace Other People’s Beliefs as Your Own
Chances are you’ve been told that changing your mind frequently isn’t beneficial.
It leads to unfinished projects, destroyed trust and wasted resources. It’s also a sign that you don’t know what you want in life, you’re inconsistent and you can’t bear the consequences of our deeds.
Not exactly the greatest predictors for your future. Or so they tell you.
I used to be one of these inconsistent, irresponsible and indeterminate people. I would engage in a project just to move on to another one in due time.
At the end of college, I became invested in academic research and spent a lot of my time on that. Then I found a travel agency I wanted to work for. But after a few months, my friends and I came up with an idea for an art project — so I decided to leave the travel agency and throw myself into the world of immersive theatre.
After we staged our first plays, I realized this wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to do either.
Despite feeling guilty towards my friends, I left the project. I needed more time for myself. At the time, I was discovering the world of spiritual growth and emotional processing and I realized that those discoveries were calling for my attention.
After a good deal of working with my feelings — I started writing again. I moved homes and countries a few times. I worked in different jobs and made friends with people from various backgrounds.
Those who knew me at that time would say without hesitation that I was constantly changing my mind. Some even referred to me as a “lost soul.”
But this wasn’t how I would describe myself. I was just curious to verify what I did and didn’t like doing. I enjoyed learning new skills and discovering things about myself I hadn’t been aware of.
Changing my mind about what I wanted to do was just a natural consequence of those discoveries. And it wasn’t a problem as far as I was concerned.
Problems arose only when I took other people’s opinions as more important than my own. Some of those people openly disapproved of what I was doing. In essence, they were just expressing that they wouldn’t want to live their lives the way I did. Fair enough.
But I took it personally. I felt like I had to defend my way of living by confronting other people’s judgments. This sometimes caused me to trust their opinions about my life more than I trusted myself.
Even though I knew I was doing my best to lay the foundation for more serious decisions in the future — I still listened to the naysayers. It felt scary when they said things like: “If you keep changing your mind all the time, you will waste your life.”
What if they were right and I was indeed setting myself up for something terrible, despite my best intentions?
Luckily, even when I felt afraid, I somehow managed to nurture an alternative belief about my life. A belief that was more in tune with me.
In this new paradigm, the fact that I changed my mind so often meant something different.
It was an indicator of me being flexible, open-minded and curious — rather than careless or unreliable. It was a sign that I was evolving and learning — and so, my mind and ideas about what I wanted were changing, too.
At some point, I observed that jumping between various environments, jobs and friends was actually helping me to pinpoint what remained unchanged.
The authentic part of me.
Why Changing Your Mind Is Necessary
In Polish, there is a proverb saying that “only cows don’t change their minds.” That is to say that humans do — and should.
Especially humans who are in love with life and want to make the most of it.
I realize now that what other people called changing my mind was just an external expression of my internal process. This process was all about figuring out the best way to live my life by following my curiosity.
Changing your mind isn’t a sign that there’s something wrong with you or that you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s just a social habit to interpret it this way. In reality, changing your mind is simply a reflection of all the internal changes going on inside of you.
It’s more of an effect than a cause.
“I wondered why changing one’s mind is often so difficult. After all, both the world and our view of it are constantly changing; circumstances never remain static, so why should our responses to them be forever locked in their initial form?” — Alex Lickerman, Changing Your Mind
The truth is that everyone has to change their mind once in a while. Otherwise, you’d be now stuck with the decisions you made when you were five! A lot has changed in your life since then — so your decisions and ideas naturally change, too.
From this perspective, the pace at which you’re changing your mind can be seen as a function of the pace at which you’re growing. The more new data you collect through your experience, the more complex the picture of your life becomes.
As this happens, the vision for your future naturally adjusts. Some people call it “changing your mind.”
But you can call this process differently. Now that we dug into what “changing your mind” actually is, we can look for a more suitable language to describe it.
“Changing Your Mind” versus “Adjusting Your Vision”
The words we use to describe our lives matter. Language conditions the way we interpret our experiences.
Therefore, the phrase I prefer to use instead of “changing your mind” is “adjusting your vision.” It alters the way we perceive ourselves and our choices in the context of creating the life we want.
- Changing your mind indicates that you feel lost, undecided and that you rely mainly on the external factors to navigate your life.
- Adjusting your vision suggests that there is a consistent intention behind all your deeds. It doesn’t matter if you don’t realize it consciously yet — the intention is always there. The process of adjusting your vision is a part of uncovering this intention.
But how does adjusting your vision play out in real life?
As I jumped between different environments and jobs, I realized that no matter what the context was, I always looked for opportunities to write something.
I was — at first, unconsciously — using all of my seemingly random experiences as my writing playground. Each of them served a purpose in establishing my confidence as a writer.
I didn’t realize this in the beginning. At first, all the different jobs and circumstances appeared as just “me trying new things”. But because I observed myself through these experiences, I started noticing a persisting truth.
I wanted to write wherever I was. I just lacked confidence that this could be something more than an indulgent hobby. So I travelled and tested myself in different circumstances to accumulate this confidence.
I was building my momentum by reconfirming, over and over again, that writing is one of the few constants in my life — no matter what.
Finally, the time came to get rid of the distractions and make a firm decision. I established enough trust in my consistency and willingness as a writer. I simply saw writing as my best shot at building a successful and rewarding career.
By adjusting my vision through many iterations, I got to the point where I didn’t see anything I would pursue more happily. Paradoxically, what appeared to be “changing my mind” in the beginning, led me to the firmest and most informed decision of my life.
I decided to become a full-time writer. Regardless of how much I would still need to adjust my vision in the process.
Adjusting Vision Is Inevitable in Pursuing Your Dreams
Because you’re still reading this article, I assume that going after your dreams is important to you. You may even already have an idea of how to do that.
But do I sense that there’s still something holding you back?
For most of us, this something is fear. Not just the fear of failure and not being good enough. It’s also the fear of having to change your plans. The fear that it may be necessary to adjust your vision and let go of control sometimes.
This fear is natural, but also possible to surpass. In essence, all it takes is one decision — to just do it.
Once you’ve tested the waters for long enough, you start trusting in your ability to swim. And if you can swim, you’re ready to go offshore and leave the future open, trusting that you’ll be able to get across the lake.
Even if a current takes you off course — that’s fine. You can’t prepare for it in advance, but you know you’re a strong enough swimmer to adjust to the situation. There’s always a way to adjust.
In fact, there are countless ways. Sometimes it will be fighting against the waves and sometimes — letting the water carry you when the wind blows too hard. But you will only be able to see what you need to do after you’ve left the shore.
Once you take the leap, keep in mind that the adjustments to your course are only that — adjustments. They don’t mean you’re abandoning your original idea. They don’t mean you’re screwing up.
All you’re doing is refining your vision as you gain more information, experience and clarity on your goals. Adjusting your vision is a sign that you’re actively pursuing it. That you’re learning from your mistakes. That you’re being open and flexible.
You can call it as you like. On the surface, it may seem like you’re “changing your mind” all the time. But as long as you know what you’re truly committed to — or you’re actively trying to discover it — these changes are beneficial.
So don’t be afraid to change. Leave the shore, swim as best as you can, and prepare yourself to adjust the course.