I try very hard not to make dumb decisions. Despite my best intentions, though…they happen.
Last Friday was one of those times. I was at a conference in Des Moines (I thought about not saying where, but since location is key to my dumb decision, it didn’t make sense…). I went down Thursday, had a wonderful day Friday (poster presentation, catching up with former students and colleagues, and even some current colleagues who I see infrequently), and then drove home Friday night. I needed to be home for the weekend not only to work, but also because I really need to be in my routine as much as possible right now. Life is (still) crazy, and it’s one of the things that’s keeping me (mostly?) sane.
So, let’s put the pieces together: Friday afternoon departure. From Des Moines (in the middle of Iowa, for the geographically unsure). And a weather forecast that was, shall we say, not ideal. They were calling for severe thunderstorms and there were tornado warnings. But when I looked at the timing, and the predictions, it seemed like my planned departure would work well. The storms should have moved through by then, and I’d be in the clear for my 5-hour drive home.
You should probably start shaking your head about now, if you’re a shaking-the-head kind of person.
Let’s just say it was a…challenging ride home. The storms were in front of me, sure – when I started. But then I started to catch up to them. And just over an hour into my trip, I found myself on a 2-lane highway in, well, a deluge. So I pulled over, like a good midwestern driver, along with all of the other good midwestern drivers on the road.
It eased up, I moved on, and then, half an hour later, really dark skies and…was that hail? My car may be almost 11 years old but… hail damage was not something I really wanted to deal with right now. I managed to find one of the few overpasses on the road and pulled mostly under it to save my car from the worst of it.
And when it eased up, I moved on. Sensing a pattern here? There was wind (so much wind), there was rain on and off, there were a few stupid drivers. But I kept white-knuckling through, determined to get home. And I did get home – obviously, as I’m writing this post. But it got me thinking about how I am the type of person who, when I make a decision, I pretty much stick with it. I am not the kind of person to second-guess, or change my mind. It takes me forever to MAKE a decision, sure. But once it’s made? It’s done.
I’m wondering whether this is always the best approach. It works well for many things – make a decision, commit, and move on. But for other choices, perhaps a more nuanced approach is better? The option to revisit the choice I made and see if it’s still the right choice for me.
Despite my tendency to stick with my choices, I have changed my mind and made a different choice more in my career than in any other area of my life. So far, it’s worked out…okay. I haven’t talked about my long and winding work history, but let’s just say that the years just before I came here were a bit more unsettled, and I made some choices that I do question, even 7 years later.
I’m wondering if I need to give myself permission to, well, make different choices in other areas of my life. Maybe this hard-headed tendency to stick with it at all costs isn’t the best option. Maybe I should think about different options, choices, approaches… and the ways those might impact my life. This is probably most relevant, right now, to my chronic overwork situation. Definitely some food for thought…
A few random quotes to end this… although I will come back to it, for sure.
It’s okay that life is messy. It’s okay that we take wrong turns all the time, even get lost once in a while. It’s okay that we’re still learning how to do it better, or make a different choice. As a beloved friend said recently, “Don’t let perfection get in the way of what’s good.” ~Melanie Harth (note: this was from something I saved in 2016…and is one reason I love my digital “scrapbook” of quotes and articles in Evernote…)
This one resonates even more, from Ozan Varol:
What you want from your life can also change as the world changes around you and as you change as a person. In fact, pursuing your curiosity will inevitably change you, by taking you off the path you’ve followed in the past and introducing you to new ways of being in the world. As long as you choose it intentionally, there’s nothing wrong with changing your direction.