I got an email from a friend last week in which she weighed the pros and cons of making a big change in her work life. She was very undecided and I could see why.
I suggested that she try a big-decision-making technique that has worked for me. In a nutshell, it is to not decide. I tell myself that today, right in front of me, I don’t have a decision to make, that I would be foolish to make one, and that my only course of action is to get much more informed.
When I left the bank, I spent 6 months actively pursuing information on 3 different types of work: law, mediation and small business ownership. This busywork kept me going from July 2009 to January 2010 at which time I hired a head baker. Then it occurred to me that I’d made a decision. Months earlier, the idea of hiring an employee with no store and no website would have been paralyzing to me but through my research, meetings and phone calls, I learned that without commercial baking training, I couldn’t go much further with my vision.
More importantly, I learned I was really excited about the idea – I even had a name! – and bored out of my mind at coffee meetings to talk about going back to a law firm or starting a mediation practice. What had seemed like very good options had shown themselves to be not right for me.
I’m not sure I would ever have opened a bakery if I’d tried to wrestle down a decision in my head. That always would have felt so risky, but my experience was not like that – in the end, there was no decisive moment, just a calm feeling about what to do next.
I wouldn’t have been offended if my friend rebuffed my unsolicited advice and kept dithering but she replied that she was going to set up some information-gathering meetings and start to work on her resume, which seemed like perfect ways for her to drift toward the right answer revealing itself.