Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paralysis by Analysis

When I consider the big lessons I got from this week, it's striking to me that there were so many shifts. In fact, when I heard someone complaining after the fact about a situation in which they had been a willing participant, I recognized that habit in myself. In the recent past, I have chosen to go along with plans that weren't really desirable on the grounds that I didn't really have a choice. Or that the outcome would be worth the sacrifice. Then, I would complain about it, without really acknowledging I actually had made a choice. This week was the week after a decision to end that behavior -- the week after deciding that there are plenty of things I am passionate about that will carry me forward, and I don't have to follow any plans for my life that aren't satisfying.

Basically, I started measuring differently. The measurements I had been taking were based on assumptions and predictions... in other words, things I had no chance of really knowing. When I considered all of the possible outcomes that could result from a decision, the decision became impossible. I was paralyzed in a plan that I didn't necessarily like, just because I didn't really know how to evaluate it. And yet, there are ways to narrow down the scope of my observations so that I measure concrete evidence that can be evaluated. Once I started looking at reality instead of my own inventions of what could possibly happen, it was not only easier to evaluate my choices, it was also easy to recognize that they were choices in the first place.

It actually opened up the space for considering what is most deeply important to me. Beyond a particular title or a specific source of income, beyond a particular identity or set of accomplishments, there is a way for me to be authentic. Really, it amounts to trusting myself and recognizing that "I matter" is a simple statement of fact, without any criteria. Essentially, at the core of who I am, there is nothing to measure or evaluate. I need no justification or proof or defense for myself. I simply am. And that is a freeing piece of knowledge if ever there was one.

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