You have to make your choices and then learn to like them. I find that people sometimes get this backward. They want to like their choices before they choose them.

It doesn’t work this way.

In fact, our brains hate to make choices and experience each and every choice as a loss. The choice to eat strawberry ice cream instead of chocolate feels like a loss. The choice to buy this home stereo system over that one feels like a loss. The choice to go to sleep instead of accepting an invitation (or vice versa!) feels like a loss.

choices

BUT ONLY FOR A MINUTE. Because once your choice has been made, your brain will work to make it OK.

“I really do love strawberry better, anyway.”

“That other stereo system would have been too big for the room.”

“I just saw them last weekend, and I really do need my sleep.”

Your brain has your back. It will make it all OK.

Where people get in their own way is when they make and remake a choice, thereby experiencing the agony of the loss over and over again.

Now, usually, people can handle being stuck with their ice cream choice…but bigger choices?

It’s Groundhog Day.

Should I write this book? Agony, agony, agony, YES. I will definitely write this book.

[Next day] I’m not sure I made the right decision. Maybe I should write blogs for a while longer and then think about a bigger project. NO, I will not write this book.

[Later that same day] But I really do love this topic.

[Next morning, upon waking] The book I want to write has already been written. Why re-write it?

[Later] How will I ever learn to write a book if I don’t write a book!?!?!”

On and on it goes.

So, should this fictional Amanda person write the book?

There’s no right answer. It’s just a choice like any other.

👍 If she writes the book, she’ll have to grapple with all the big issues in book writing like writer’s block and impostor syndrome. BUT she’ll develop her voice in longer projects and come out the other end with an accomplishment. Maybe not a bestseller, but a book of her very own.

👎 If she doesn’t write the book, she can use that time and mental energy in some other way. Maybe she learns to meditate, or takes a lot of naps, or starts parasailing. That works, too!

choices

No choice is perfect and very few choices are terrible, horrible, no good options…except the choice (and it is a choice!) to hand wring and change your mind and never start. Don’t spend all your time in the AGONY of decision making. Don’t do that.

Once a choice is made *and your brain believes you,* it will then – almost by magic! – make it OK.

Let’s say you decide to write that book.

No more wibble-wobble, it’s GO TIME!

You’ll figure out how to talk about being an author and that will feel exciting.

You’ll find a community of writers who believe, as you do, that a book is worth an exorbitant amount of effort.

And you’ll learn to value the struggle with the words, you’ll get behind the themes that emerge, and the part of you that loves to help and share will spark to life.

You will enjoy these feelings.

choices

In short: the inner sanctuary where the doing is done will open to you and you’ll like it in there.

Will you also struggle with the drama of doing? YES.

But, when the decision is behind you, these stop being reasons to quit and instead become obstacles to overcome. That feels better.

So, in short, stop trying to like your choices before you make them.

Instead, make your choices, and then learn to like them.

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost a million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.