I’ll never forget the night I drove across the George Washington Bridge by accident.
It was 2010, and I’d just dropped some friends off at a train station in New Jersey. In a moment of distraction, I missed my turn on the unfamiliar, dark streets.
That’s how I found myself on a one-way road heading straight toward the bridge and into New York City.
There was no changing course or correcting the mistake. If I wanted to get home to New Jersey, I’d need to pay the $8.00 toll, cross the bridge, then get back on course.
Now, this was certainly a first-world problem. I had gas in the tank and my parents’ EZ Pass to boot. (Plus, that same toll is now $15.00, making $8.00 seem like a bargain.)
Yet I remember the strong resistance I felt to paying that toll, the “Are you KIDDING me?!” exclaimed out loud.
What Does Decision Making Really Mean?
Have you ever had an experience like that – a moment when you realized that the cost of getting where you wanted to go was much higher than you thought it would be?
Did you let a literal or metaphorical toll booth deter you, or do you take a deep breath, press the gas, and carry on?
Often we balk at the price of getting where we want to go.
But the beauty of the one-way road is that once we’re on it, we’re REALLY on it. There’s no way out but through.
It’s a decision in the truest sense of the word: a killing-off of all other options. I love fellow coach and author Jen Sincero’s reflection on decisions:
“So often, we pretend we’ve made a decision, when what we’ve really done is signed up to try until it gets too uncomfortable.”
How many of us back down and back away when things get uncomfortable?
When we don’t hit our goals, when we need to have a tough conversation with someone we love … do we hang in there? Or do we deflect and avoid and make illegal U-turns?
Back in 2010, I would have made a U-turn if I could. I wanted an easier way out, but there wasn’t one. So I paid the toll, drove into New York, and turned the car back around.
Decision Making Made Easy
If a decision you’ve made in good faith is causing you discomfort, it does NOT necessarily mean that it’s time to change course.
Yes, there are different types of discomfort, and sometimes wanting to leave is enough. But when you’re tempted to throw in the towel, you must be rigorously honest with yourself.
Is what you’re doing actually wrong for you … or are you just scared to move forward?
Is it truly time to back away … or is it time to deal with the discomfort head-on?
As of this writing, I’m 39 weeks pregnant. This baby is loved and long-awaited, and my husband Jonathan and I can’t wait to welcome her.
And as anyone who has been 39 weeks pregnant will tell you, it’s getting pretty uncomfortable around here.
I’m grateful for a healthy pregnancy … and I’m having trouble putting on socks. When I try to sleep, baby girl does the can-can, kicking into my rib cage well past midnight.
Then there’s the mental and emotional discomfort of uncertainty, of not knowing when the baby will arrive. As I said to Jonathan, “Not only is labor something I’ve never done before, but I don’t get to know when it’s coming!”
But the more that I think about it, the more I realize that’s a pretty good synopsis of life itself.
Life is ALWAYS handing out new things – opportunities, challenges, connections – and we never get to know exactly when they’re coming.
We like to think that we know. We like our illusion of certainty. But it’s not real. And the sooner we acknowledge that, the freer we feel.
And the sooner we make a decision – a no-going-back turn onto a given road – the more we can enjoy the journey.
For me, right now there’s relief in the realization that, hey look! Once again, I’m on a one way road – though this time, it’s one that I chose deliberately.
Once again, there are “pay toll” signs – first Labor and Delivery, then Parenthood – up ahead. It’s going to cost me, and in some moments I resist that.
But in wiser moments, I surrender. I remember how hard I fought to get onto this road in the first place. And I know that whatever it costs, it’s going to be worth it.
How can I trust that? How can any of us be confident in our choices? I’m not sure, but here’s what I believe …
We can trust the roads that lead us homeward.
What’s one area of discomfort that you need to stop avoiding?
Also, for all the parents, caregivers, and nurturers out there: What words of wisdom would you like to pass along as we prepare to welcome our new family member?
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
Finally, I’ll be on maternity leave this summer, and will look forward to sharing new stories with you in the fall.
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