People make big, big choices sitting in my office – decisions about their marriage, their money, their kids, their career, their home (and those are just the biggies). I am careful to try to make sure that my clients are relying on the best information available, that they consider the costs and the benefits, and I do my best to try and get them to make those choices when they are in an emotional place where they are actively making choices and not just reacting in the middle of an upset moment. At least once per month, after a client has worked with me, stepped carefully through all the options, and ultimately come to a decision that is informed and coming from a place of careful planning – I’ll get THE CALL. I always know it’s THE CALL right away. I can hear fear, uncertainty and mistrust in their voice right away. And it usually starts with either “I’ve been thinking” or “I talked to my family”.
THE CALL is the time of second-guessing. Usually, it comes after someone spends a few hours (or weeks or months) working through the issues in their case with me and then they speak to their parents, or their friends, or their hairdresser and they stop trusting their own decision. I get it, something that feels so reasoned and rational can feel wrong if someone says, “that’s crazy!” or “you deserve more!”.
If you have ever spent time putting together a special outfit, only to have your kid take one look at you and say, “is THAT what you are wearing?” you know that the source of the criticism isn’t terribly important. An 8 year old in green tights, a leopard print tank top and an orange tutu can tell you that your blouse looks like grandma’s curtains and suddenly your questioning your latest Anthropologie sale rack find. Was it on sale because everyone else thought it was ugly? Is it cool vintage modern or just tacky thrift store throw back? It’s natural to second guess ourselves when we are criticized. It’s also dangerous.
I have no problem with changing my mind (hey, I used to shop at Laura Ashley and you probably did, too) but there is a key difference between making a reasoned determination that you need to change direction and questioning your own judgment because of someone’s criticism.
So what’s the one question you need to know?
The next time that you question your own judgment, ask yourself, “Do I want to change my mind to achieve the outcome I want or because I’m worried that people will think less of me if I do something they don’t agree with?” Your decisions should be guided by the results you want and by the life you want – and not the opinion of people that don’t have to walk in your shoes.