The fork in the road

fork in the roadMy son just spent weeks, months even, agonizing over his college choice. Even after he finally came to a decision, he still agonized. Had he made the right decision? When I checked in with him the next day (ready to cancel my deposit and put it on the other school if he had any regrets), his resolution had become firm. I’m good, Mom. I had second thoughts at first, but I’m good now.

It turns out that a call to his dad had given him the assurance he needed to move forward confidently. To paraphrase his paraphrase, his dad told him that  now that he had made a decision, it was by nature the right one. He shouldn’t second guess it; now it’s all about making it happen. I puzzled over that a bit, but I was glad it had helped.

Fast forward a couple of days, and the daily sayings calendar on my desk greeted me with “Decide what you want. Do that.”

Suddenly it all came together for me. Whatever the issue, too often we wait until we “figure it out.” That’s usually a cleverly disguised moniker we use as we wait–hope–for some kind of sign. We want someone, something to give us the answer, or we think that we’ll have some magical epiphany that will lead us in the “right” direction. Instead, we need to just decide, then do.

What if I make the wrong decision, you ask? What will I do then?

That’s easy. Just decide to do something different. Then do it. You’ll have plenty of time, now that you’ve given up all the hours, days, weeks, months, YEARS you used to spend vacillating between your choices.

I hope I can effectively convey this concept to my kids. Don’t wait to figure it out. Pick your direction and forge your path. You’ll get farther faster, build your confidence, and learn a lot along the way. And since you’re already forging a path, you can build it in any direction you want.

So when you come to a fork in the road, take it. Maybe Yogi Berra knew what he was talking about after all.

Look before you leap

When I first saw this sign during a recent trip to Brazil, I laughed and reached for my camera. Really? I thought. They actually have to tell someone this? I snapped the photo and moved on, forgetting about it until scrolling through my photos this morning.

It still makes me chuckle, but my hyperanalytical brain started searching for deeper meaning. All of a sudden, I saw it as a metaphor (surprise, surprise). Have there been times when I jumped into what I thought was a waiting elevator, only to plummet down an empty shaft? Or to alight on top of a car that has almost, but not quite, arrived?

You bet.

My particular elevator isn’t major life decisions, investment strategies, or some other grandiose endeavor. I tend to think about those long and hard, erring toward the conservative side. No, my elevator usually involves my mouth. When I’m on a roll, you might find me jumping into an argument or a discussion having taken a “fact” or two for granted. Given my ponderous nature, I feel particularly humbled when I discover I’ve jumped into an empty elevator shaft without looking and have to climb out rumpled and rueful.

Whatever your elevator, check your facts and take nothing for granted. Don’t jump in blind.

I guess the sign isn’t so silly after all.