There’s this concept in the movie Inception, that you never quite know how a dream started. You always just find yourself in the middle of it. It feels incredibly real, and you’re completely focused on what happens next.
This makes me think about the decisions I’ve made in my life that have led me to where I am.
If I think about it and ask myself which decisions led me here, I can’t really pinpoint one.
How did you arrive at your current job? How did you end up living in the house you’re in? What about the city? What led you to the partner you’re spending your life with? What led to those kids?
We tend to fixate on what we see as massive, irrevocable decisions at key points in our life, which we think will send us on a rollercoaster ride that we can’t get off, and that we hope ends in the outcome we’ve dreamed about.
But that’s not actually how it works.
There is no single, premeditated decision that resulted in the life you’re living now. In truth, most of the decisions we make, and thus the outcomes we’re living, are the result of a series of tiny decisions. Decisions that don’t feel significant at the time. Decisions to follow your curiosity. Decisions to engage in a conversation. Decisions to say yes, decisions to say no.
These tiny decisions are individually imperceptible in their effect. But taken together, they are the cause behind the effect that is our current reality.
My takeaway here is not to be overwhelmed by every decision that you make. To avoid thinking that you must make some grand single decision in order to achieve the outcome you want in life. Instead, focus on the tiny decisions that guide your everyday life.
Hone on your curiosity by reading more. Be open to new ideas by getting really good at listening. If you have your navigation system tuned to your values and morals, the series of decisions you make in everyday moments and the actions you take as a result will lead you to the life that you want. Not in a fatalistic way. In a way that is true to who you are.
After all, motion is more important than direction.
If you still feel paralyzed about a decision, remember there is never a clear answer.
This realization came to Allen Ginsberg on his path to become a poet. He was 28 and had a job as a market researcher. He told his psychologist that he was considering quitting this promising career to make his own way in the world, to become a poet. “Well, why not?” his psychiatrist said.”What would the American Psychoanalytic Association say?” Ginsberg replied. And the psychiatrist said, “There’s no party line.”
Every situation is different. You’ll figure it out as you go. That doesn’t mean winging it, but it does mean you will have to answer these questions. No one can do it for you.