Here’s something else I discovered the enormous power of recently: the power of making one small decision.
How making just one small decision can lead you down a path that helps you, or one that hinders (or even hurts) you.
Here’s what happened
I was driving home from a lunch with friends and was thinking about stopping in at a huge shopping mall on the way. This mall houses my favourite tea store, T2, and I’d run out of Irish Breakfast tea. Now, I have four other teas I can drink but I was lapsing into justification thinking “Well, Irish Breakfast is my strongest black tea, which is great for that kick I sometimes need to get the blood pumping in the mornings“, which I knew was the thin of the wedge to give me the excuse I needed to stop at this large mall.
Because, you see, I knew I wouldn’t stop in to just the T2 store. I knew I’d find myself wandering around a number of the other stores in that mall.
So there I was, driving along Gympie Terrace in Brisbane, with the first turn off to this mall coming up. Should I go in? What harm could it possibly do?
For me, in this particular situation at this particular time, finding myself in a shopping mall with 350 stores in it, would have been bad.
Why? Because I was not in the right emotional state to be there. I wasn’t any of the things that I recommend others be when they go shopping – I was tired, I was fractious, I was distracted, even a bit upset.
I was far from positive, alert and “resourceful”: the recommended state for conscious shopping.
To find myself in a crowded Sunday afternoon shopping mall was the last thing I needed. It would not have been a soothing or grounding activity. It would have further agitated me.
So I drove on by. I skipped buying that Irish Breakfast tea. And as a consequence, I bypassed a lot of other things as well.
The big thing that struck me was how that one decision – to drive on by, to not go in — saved me from making any further buying related decisions that day. Which is what would have ended up happening.
Like dominoes falling, one decision leads to another
If I had made a different decision, one to go into the mall, I would have been faced with many other decisions. Decisions I was not really fit to make.
Should I buy the chocolate chip chai tea as well, since I’m here?
Should I stop into this cute shoe store, which the 40% off everything sale sign out the front? And since I’m here, should I try on these animal print driving shoes? And since I’ve tried them on and they fit so great, should I consider getting them, since they are such a great deal? (ignoring for the moment how many other shoes I already own)
Should I look in the women’s wear department, since I’m already in here looking at accessories?
On and on, other decisions would have presented themselves to me. Overwhelmed before I went in, I would have been further challenged by being in such an over-stimulating environment.
At the very least, it would have left me emotionally further depleted. At the very worst, I would have ended up buying a bunch of things I didn’t want or need, which I would have felt bad about.
And that one decision – to drive on by, to not go in — saved me from all of that
I drove on home. I curled up with a book and a heat pack on my frozen feet. I read a little, I had a nap. I spent a cosy night in, eating leftovers and watching a movie with my husband.
And like a binge drinker in recovery, I woke up this morning feeling a great sense of relief that I hadn’t stopped in to that mall, that I had made one small decision that had a huge impact. I drove on by.
What small decisions can you make that will take you closer to where you want to go?
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