You probably haven’t heard of the movie Sliding Doors. It was released in 1998 and wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. The official description of the movie: A London woman’s love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train. We see it both ways, in parallel.
I sometimes reflect upon that movie, knowing that when one door opens, another closes. Every decision we make has some sort of impact. There are obvious scenarios: we choose one job; we enroll in one b-school; we marry one person. And then there is the minutiae. We spend one minute in anger or laziness or dishonesty and that minute is forever gone. Words cannot be unsaid; the moment cannot be re-lived. Our life is essentially composed of these decisions, one after another, forever.
Knowing that our lives are comprised of these micro-decisions is both empowering and intimidating. Empowering, because in any moment, we can win, grow, succeed. Intimidating, because what if we make the wrong decision? What if we choose to go down the wrong path? Or what if we just unwittingly don’t catch the train?
Yes, it is important to make the right choices, but I argue that it’s equally important to just make a choice. Make a choice and run with it. Hope that 50% of your choices are good ones. Hope that your decisions get better over time.
If we take action, failure is guaranteed. At some point, we mess up spectacularly, but here’s the magic: it’s only after the failure that we can learn, grow and move forward, choosing again.
If we become paralyzed by trying to make the perfect decision or map out the perfect path, we go nowhere.
We never launch that business, because…what about the other idea?
We can’t get started on our essays because there are some other, possibly better possibilities brewing in our mind.
We don’t take the trip because we cannot decide which destination is best.
We never ask that person out, because what if they say no?
We are afraid of making the wrong choice, of failing, of rejection, of it being too hard. We are afraid of working to make things happen, so instead we stay safe and do nothing. And in this safety zone we miss out on it all.
Is there something you have been wanting to accomplish or experience? What is holding you back? Today, you can choose a path. Take one sloppy step in perhaps the wrong direction. But get moving: progress, learn, backtrack, fall, rebound and ultimately, experience and grow.