Inspired by Katetakes5 I’ve compiled a list of my best 5 decisions. Writing them has been quite an interesting introspection exercise. I've thought deeply about what things have changed my life and of those, which were because of decisions I've made, versus circumstance. After composing them I realised that they all have one very important thing in common, each one involved taking a chance, a step into the unknown. There were other options, safer, more conventional routes but each of these decisions has enriched my life.
The thing I’ve realised over recent years is that you can’t live your life in fear of failure. Some things work great, some things are a big massive flop but to try nothing for fear of things going wrong is to only half live a life. I have faith in myself that I can survive failure, that if it happens I will grow and become stronger from it. So when I make a decision, start something new, give something a try, I jump in boots and all.
So here in no particular order is my list of top decisions, what are yours?
1. Learn to Dance
Isn’t it funny how sometimes you really want something, but manage to give yourself all sorts of reasons why you can’t do it? I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to learn to dance, but I always found a reason not to do it. In high school it was that I was too unco and not cool enough to try out for Rock Eisteddfod. Later it was that it was expensive, or you needed a partner, or that I was too unco (a reoccurring theme, I really am very unco).
In reality, I was just too scared! As I now know, it doesn’t have to be expensive, you definitely don’t need a partner and if I can learn, no one is too unco to learn to dance.
It took till I was 24, but taking the plunge and learning to dance has absolutely changed my life for the better in so many ways. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been with better posture and actual stomach muscles. I have a hobby that makes me smile and laugh and fills me with joy. And it has led me to the most amazingly wonderful people, my brilliant friends and of course S.
2. Working for my Dad
I know lots of people think this was probably an easy decision, it wasn’t, it was really hard. Working for my Dad has made it harder to develop an independent professional identity. I’ve had to prove myself over and over that I’m in my position based on merit not family ties. I care, worry and feel more responsible for the business than I ever would in similar positions working for others and my Dad is a hard task master.
But you know, every one of those hard things, is actually what makes it so rewarding. I care, I work hard, I want to achieve my best. And I get to work with my Dad who I love. He might be a hard task master but he is great fun and I love our working relationship. He is an amazing and inspiring mentor and I’ve developed a range of skills that I would never have in any other position.
3. Going to South America in 2009
In early 2009 my (now) great friend A asked if I would go with her to South America. There were lots of reasons I could have said no. She was a friend but I didn’t know her that well, it used up all my savings and leave in the middle of a massive year from a professional point of view. I had never backpacked or been away from home for longer than 2 weeks. But I said yes and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Not only did I achieve my life ambition of visiting Machu Picchu, I saw the most magnificent things and it reignited my love of travel. The other great thing about that decision was that we chose to do independent travel. I’m sure our families would have been much happier to have us on an organised tour but the things we did and got to see would just not have been possible if it wasn’t for that decision.
4. Staying at home and saving for a house deposit rather than renting
When I was in my early 20’s all my friends started moving out into their cool little apartments and group houses. By my mid 20’s even my little sister had moved out with her boyfriend. My parents are fabulous and didn’t impinge on my life at all, but still there were times when I felt like my life was never going to move on. I felt like a little girl locked in her childhood bedroom. I felt so stuck that I even instructed my mother to kick me out of home if I was still there when I was 30.
But all that saving and an inheritance meant that when I did move out, I moved into my own place. Every day I come home I feel proud that I achieved and that much as it is a struggle at times to pay the mortgage, I’m doing it.
5. Deciding I’m responsible for my own happiness
I think like many girls, Disney had me fooled. For a long time there I was waiting for my knight in shining armour to come and make my life perfect. Without ever consciously thinking it, I assumed that other people would point me in the right directions and I kind of floated along like that till I was in my 20’s.
It might sound ridiculous, it certainly does to me now, but it took me an awfully long time to work out that if I wanted something, I had to make it happen, I couldn’t just hope that it would work all by itself. I’m almost blushing as I type this to think of how many years I daydreamed away waiting for something to happen, without doing anything to make it happen.
I’m not sure when I started to consciously realise that I was in charge of my destiny, it was a sort of gradual awakening. I’m not sure that I’m even really there yet, but I feel it is almost as if I’ve stepped out from a fog, into a clear blue day, where there are paths before me and I choose which ones I take.
This blog is one of those paths. It is a conscious step on into the Pollyanna Syndrome. Focusing on happy things has made me happier.
I’m still working on it and I think I will my whole life, but I think this decision, this realisation, has made everything I’ve achieved in recent years possible.