Don’t Stop Believing

iStock_000009051181XSmallOne of the biggest fears many of us have is the fear of making a decision. Of course, we have been taught all of our lives not make the wrong decision so it is natural that this seems to be a universal fear (Jeffers 101). After all, its been conditioned in us since youth (and reinforced during the third Indiana Jones installment – ‘you must choose wisely.’)

Since I am using dating references this week let’s continue along those lines. I recall once in college when I had tickets to see Journey. I had been sort of dating a girl at the time; we were not exclusive and she lived about 75 minutes away at CSU and could not find a ride down to Denver to go to the concert with me. I didn’t want to drive all the way up and back (again) late at night because I had almost fallen asleep several other times driving back from her dorm.

There was another girl who lived nearby and I’d been wanting to ask her out for awhile. I figured the Journey tickets would be a good hook. Of course it worked. Dangling tickets to one of the hottest bands of the 80s in front of anybody back then, was like dangling a gigantic bag of weed in front of Cheech and Chong.

Things did not turn out so well. When we got to the concert, speaking of weed, this girl took off to go find some and someone to smoke it with. I was a pilot major and there was no way I was going to screw up my flight medical so needless to say, I didn’t carry.

I ended up watching the concert by myself and she showed up at the very end, stoned and begging for a ride home. (Yes, I gave her a ride home, because I’m not that much of a douche bag).

I made a bad decision.

I chased after what I perceived to be the bigger and better deal. Had I driven up to CSU and picked up the other girl it probably would’ve been a VERY good night, as it was sort of that time of the relationship. I probably wouldn’t have worried about the drive back either – I would have figured something out.

Jeffers promises no-lose decisions:

  1. She says to adopt the philosophy of the no lose model (Jeffers 108). In the know who’s model you have confidence in yourself that you will handle things regardless of which way they go or how things end up (Jeffers 108).
  2. Jeffers says that it is important that you talk to the right people and do your homework. (Jeffers 109).
  3. Establish your priorities (Jeffers 111). Remain focused on your primary outcome. Clarify your goals and understand which of the decisions you make will lead you to that destination. I was a pilot in college – I knew how to make decisions about avoiding weather, selecting a course with favorable winds, and whether the decisions I made was leading me towards my destination.
  4. Trust your impulses. (Jeffers 112). This is also known as trusting your gut or trusting your intuition. Many times your subconscious is trying to tell you something so you need to listen to it. Your subconscious picks up on indicators, body language and past experiences; your subconscious is your personal intelligence gathering agency, your internal NSA, but it is only good to you if you read to the message traffic.
  5. Lighten up (Jeffers 113). We live in a world where everything is taken so seriously when in reality there’s not too much that is that important (Jeffers 113). Being a former road rage moron, I’m like an ex-smoker who can who can detect cigarette smoke anywhere. I constantly see people in traffic cutting each other off or defending their lane like a mother bear protecting her cubs. I find myself asking, is it really that important that this person does not get in front of you?

After making a decision, toss out the picture you had in your mind of the outcome and let the experience happen (Jeffers 114). If you’re trying to control the situation, you might miss an opportunity that you did not even imagine.

So let’s go back and apply these lessons to my rather simple dating scenario. First, when the girl took off to go get high I could’ve decided to enjoy the concert anyway, perhaps by finding someone else while I was there to enjoy the concert with. Instead I spent the entire night pissed off. Sheesh, even Journey was telling me to don’t stop believing!

I could have done my homework. I had mutual friends with the girl I took to the concert. A few phone calls ahead of time would’ve told me that she was only interested in going to the concert and not going with me (later confirmed – wish we’d had cell phones back then).

My priorities were to have a good time at this concert (and, okay, at the time I was a college male so there were a couple other outcomes I was hoping for). Frankly, my chances that a pleasant into the evening would’ve been better that I made the trip to CSU. I wasn’t following my priorities.

Trusting my intuition – my subconscious was virtually screaming at me from the moment I asked this girl out until the moment I picked her up. Nothing about it felt right and I should’ve used the lame excuse on her that I used on the girl up at CSU. Not only was my subconscious mind picking up on clues, I was consciously picking up on clues and also consciously ignoring them.

Lighten up. Okay I am still struggling with this because I’m talking about a situation that happened over 25 years ago that I am still a little bitter about. In the end, it truly all did work out and I learned a great life lesson without too much consequence. When we can let life be our curriculum we reduce the number of bad decisions we make, and when we do make them, we’re better at making the best of them.

My key takeaways from this book are to use positive affirmations to silence the chatterbox within, remembering the “pushing the arm down” exercise; acting as-if the outcome is going to be good and just tackling the situation head first. Make the call you are putting off – the outcome will be known to you quicker and you can either move ahead or move in a different direction; no one wants to be the preverbal donkey sitting between two hay bales wondering which one to eat from, and eventually starving to death (Jeffers 101).

Jeffers, Susan. Feel the Fear — and Do It Anyway Dynamic Techniques for Turning Fear, Indecision, and Anger into Power, Action, and Love. New York, NY: Ballantine, 2007. Print.

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