You may remember that a mere 2 months ago, I moved to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It was a spur of the moment decision, a quick escape from the city, a way to get away from a situation when I wasn’t sure what else to do. I had planned on being there for 3-4 months, maybe longer.
And as I write this, I’m sitting here in my apartment in Toronto. Back home, 6 weeks later. What happened to “3-4 months, maybe longer?”
I changed my mind.
And inevitably, I got all kinds of responses to this:
“What, you’re leaving paradise?”
“Things just not working out for you there?”
“Couldn’t hack it?”
And really, none of those are true (especially the paradise one. What the hell do people think I do, sit on the beach all day sipping icy rum drinks and updating Facebook from my phone? I went to the beach once. I lived on the outskirts of the city, where I stayed indoors for 9 hours a day working my as off. The assumptions people make about my life are wild. Yeah, it’s pretty sweet, but c’mon people – I still work!). Anyway, I decided, for a variety of reasons, that I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be in Toronto. So 6 weeks later, I bought a return ticket and came home. No fear about what people would think. No worries about sticking to my commitment. No “sticking it out” just for the sake of it.
Here’s my whole thing about finishing what you start:
I think it’s total bullshit.
We almost always start things without having the full picture. Often we start things and our circumstances change. Sometimes we start things and we just plain don’t like them. There are probably a thousand reasons why you might change your mind. But so many people are stuck in the “finish what I started” mindset that they trap themselves in situations that suck.
The problem with the “finish what you started/stick it out” mentality is that it doesn’t account for the fact that we never have any idea how something is going to turn out.
This is how life works. We do something, and we’re never really sure of where it will lead us. So to start something and be wholeheatedly committed to seeing it through doesn’t make any sense, when you think about it.
You have to give yourself permission to change your mind.
Here’s a little analogy that just came to mind: Let’s say you’re a little afraid of heights, but you decide you’re going to walk across one of those old wooden suspension bridge thingies. You say to yourself “I’m going to finally do this!” and you start walking. And when you’re about halfway across, you notice that the other end of the bridge is on fire. It’s burning, and in a few minutes, it will burn right through and the whole bridge will come crashing down. You look back, and realize you still have time to turn around and walk back to where you started. No harm done. So then, do you say to yourself “The bridge may be burning, but goddammit, I committed to walking this bridge, and I’m going to do it! Even if it means I have to die for it!”
No. Of course not. That would be ridiculous. You didn’t know when you committed that the bridge would start to burn. You didn’t know that it would be a life or death decision. You just decided it was something that would feel good to do, so you went for it. But it didn’t really work out the way you thought, and halfway through, the logical thing to do would be to re-assess the situation, determine whether it was working for you (which, in the bridge case, it most definitely wasn’t), and reevaluate what you should do from there.
But this isn’t how we generally operate, is it? We tend to want to see things through, because we were taught at a young age that quitters never win.
We stay in academic programs we loathe and jobs that suck. We pour all our effort into business projects that just aren’t working, instead of reevaluating what’s not working and tweaking as we go. We make big life decisions that we defend to the death, for fear of being judged, looking like a quitter, or a failure, or like we “can’t hack it”.
We put all this stock into making the “right” decision, for fear that once we decide, that’s it. It’s final. And that it just totally ridiculous!
Not only is it ridiculous, but it’s also so, so backwards. We don’t know how something is going to work out til we try it, so to put so much weight into a decision that we haven’t even really tested out yet is just insane. What’s even more amusing is that we let the fear of making the wrong decision paralyze us and stop us from making any decision at all – which is a surefire way to get us nowhere. Duh.
So we hum and haw and stress, and we finally make THE DECISION, then we shame ourselves for changing our minds when it doesn’t work out for us.
Are you seeing how illogical this is?!
So the entire reason for this post is to help you take the shame out of changing your mind. To give you permission to go back on your decisions when they aren’t working out.
Not that you need my permission, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone tell you that what you’re feeling is totally normal, right?
There is no shame in changing your mind. If someone wants to judge you for it, that’s their own shit. And it’s usually a sign that they are stuck in something they don’t want to be in, and they’re too afraid to change their mind. Don’t let someone else’s baggage bring you down.
Take a stand for yourself, change your mind, and who knows… maybe you’ll inspire someone else to do the same.
What situation are you stuck in that you reaaallly want to bail on, but you’re sticking out for fear of being judged if you change your mind? Comment down there with your story.