DEAR SAGE: I love your site! Recently, I’ve been experiencing a near paralyzing fear of making the wrong decisions! I’m worried about how everything I do now will affect my future. Please help!
DEAR FUTURE-FEARER: Thank you for your support of the site! Your question is excellent…anxiety or fear of the future and analysis paralysis (as I like to call it) are more common than you might think. Indeed, in one of Lao-tzu’s epic quotes, he affirms that anxiety comes from living in the future. So let’s begin!
I must tell you, when I first read your quote, I was reminded of my time as a student at Northwestern University. I had a great Professor (his name now escapes me) in a course called Decision Analysis, who told a story I will never forget:
Being a probabilities expert naturally lent itself well to this professor becoming a card counter. Though his card counting led him to being banned from several casinos, he was playing blackjack at a Vegas casino where he was (still) allowed. Upon counting cards over the course of time, they had reached the last hand before the decks would be shuffled again…and he realized that he had a 75% chance of winning! Therefore, he made the choice to go all in and bet $50,000. If he won, he would triple his money; if he lost, he would lose everything. The cards were turned and…he lost. He told us that his drive home was one of the longest of his life and he was so angry with himself for betting everything on one hand.
But then, he stopped himself and realized that he was basing the decision on the result instead of the decision itself. He realized that if he would have won, he would have been so happy and proud of himself for taking the risk! He reflected again on his choice, given a 75% chance of winning, and realized that he made the best decision he could at the time with the information that he had. Outcome aside, he had made a great decision.
His lesson to us was that one should not judge a decision by the results (which could be good or bad), base your decision on whether you made the best decision you could at the time with the information you had.
So my message to you is that you must not waste all of your time and energy worrying about the outcome of your decisions. The reality is that you can never know how something will turn out until you move forward. And remember that no matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, you can always turn back!
Focus on making good decisions with the information you have right now and the future will take care of itself. So, my dear, take a deep breath, relax, smile and just do it! ;)
You are WISE..You are CAPABLE…You are filled with DIVINE INSIGHT and INTUITION! You need not have any fear for your future…instead, enjoy each present moment you have been gifted! YOU CAN DO THIS!! :)
Love and light,