Cell phones are one of the most amazing devices ever created by human beings, and they don't exist on accident. They're the result of thousands of people making millions of decisions about every aspect of their function.
Same goes for your life; its quality is the direct result of the choices you make every day, all day long.
If you want better results, you have to make better choices.
Fortunately for you I've made tons of really bad choices in my life. This gives me a certain expertise on what, exactly, a bad choice looks like.
No matter what flavor bad choice I've made, they all seemed to have 6 things in common. I wanted to tell you what those are so you can run your next big idea by this checklist to see if you should give it the green light, or pull the plug.
If you recognize that you're doing these things in your own life, you're screwing up, man.
1. You're Not Talking About It.
When you surround yourself with amazing people who are incredibly talented, kind, caring, & smart you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't bounce your big idea off your brain trust.
And you're not.
This should be a massive blip on your "I'm about to do something stupid" radar. You're probably basing your choices of how you think things are instead of playing out all the possible outcomes.
Your plan is only as good as the information it's based on, so give yourself the freedom to game it out with other people.
More communication is better than no communication. Keeping everything to yourself is a recipe for disaster.
2. You're Managing the Narrative.
So maybe you do share your plans with the important people in your life; but you're not giving them all the details.
You're leaving out key pieces of the puzzle, and maybe omitting things that would be less than flattering.
There's another term for a "managed narrative," and that's "lying."
If you're lying to the most important people in your life, you're making a huge mistake. You're going to ruin any shred of trust you've established, your reputation will be ruined, and the whole truth will always come to light.
3. You Know Better.
This is a big one. It sounds too simple, but it's not.
Sometimes listening to that quiet voice inside telling you, "You shouldn't be doing this" is the hardest thing to do.
It's easy for Shakespeare to say "To thine own self be true" but living it in real time takes monumental effort.
You may not always be crystal clear about what you want, but when your intuition is whispering at you the sooner you start listening, the better things with be for you.
I've made some bad choices because I knew that's what was expected of me (but not what I actually wanted). I explained away my voice telling me not to go through with it as "everyone has doubts, right?" I ignored that voice for the next couple years until I hit the big red self destruct button. That voice had been slowly getting louder & louder until it was screaming at me.
To thine own self be true. You know better. Don't live the voice of society, your friends, or even your family; you absolutely must live your own truth.
Not doing so is a massive mistake.
4. You're Worn Out.
It takes energy maintaining a false reality. Whether you're lying to yourself or others, it takes a lot of brain&willpower to pull off convincingly.
Also, great choices tend to be a source of energy & excitement. They should get you fired up about what's on the horizon.
If, on the other hand, you're constantly worn out, you're probably making some bad choices along the way.
5. You're freaked out.
Do a quick check in with your internal state. Are you anxious? Are you nervous? Are you angry?
Intense negative emotions centered around a decision is usually a huge red flag that you're not onboard with it. You might be trying to convince yourself it's a good idea, but if the lizard part of your brain is on high alert, there's probably a reason.
Ignore it at your own peril and suffer the consequences of prolonged negative emotional states.
6. You're Rushing.
If you're totally freaked out, you're probably going to start operating in "Fight or Flight" mode which is rarely good for making well-reasoned decisions.
Moving too quickly is a sure-fire sign that you're making a bad choice.
This is different than having instant clarity about what you want; moving too fast is moving for the sake of movement which only serves to bleed out your energy, erode your emotional reserves, and lead to degraded willpower.
If you're rushing, it means you're only making choices on your pre-existing decision making heuristics. This can only get you the results you've always gotten. If you want something different, you have to take the time to think of better options for yourself.
Any time I'm keeping things from my friends, I know I'm messing up. Any time I'm moving too quickly, I know I'm messing up. Any time I'm ignoring my truth, I know I'm messing up.
Hopefully these 6 signs will help you identify less-than-great choices before you've made them, so you can take time to do things the right way.
How 'bout you? What signals have you noticed around your bad choices? I'd love to hear them. Drop me a line on Twitter or at ~minder-folden/purgatory ; I'd love to hear your horror stories.