Here’s a lesson I’m still learning: Changing your mind isn’t the same as giving up.
You see, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about goals—how to set them properly, how to see them through, how to keep your perspective about achieving them.
As most of you know, I’m kind of a goal junkie.
But recently, I’ve had to make some…corrections. And it’s been hard. In many ways, it makes me feel weak. Like I’ve failed. But I realized this morning that I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. I’ve been acting like “changing my mind” is the same as “quitting.”
And it’s not.
You see, changing your mind is YOUR RIGHT. No one can take that from you.
The trick is not to be fickle. Give your decision the thought and attention it deserves. But give yourself the freedom you deserve.
Here are a few questions to consider before changing your mind:
1. What’s Changed?
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Circumstances change, priorities shift. The world as we know it never stands still. At times, your choices have to adjust accordingly.
Think of it this way: If you’re planning to quit your job and go back to school, and then your spouse is suddenly laid off, you almost have no choice but to at least consider changing your mind. (In most cases and for most people this would cause some major reconsideration.)
It doesn’t mean the goal of going back to school has to disappear completely. It just might need to be adjusted in some way. The timeline would shift, perhaps.
Or maybe YOU are the one that’s changed. Maybe what used to be right no longer resonates. Maybe you’ve grown in an unexpected direction.
Now, it’s also important to recognize when the thing that’s changed is good old-fashioned fear disguising itself. That happens a lot. Fear has a clever way of convincing us that we can’t do things. It tricks us into thinking we never really wanted to in the first place. So be careful and be honest. If fear is what’s holding you back, pause for a moment. Typically, decisions made out of fear tend to backfire. Don’t change your mind just yet. You might feel stronger tomorrow. (This has happened to me many, many times and I’m always grateful when I follow this advice and simply pause.)
2. What Is Your Heart Telling You?
The process of changing your mind doesn’t only happen in your head. As a human being, you are filled with infinite wisdom. It’s there inside you. All you have to do is listen.
I wrote about emotions and their impact on decision-making recently. You see, sometimes, your brain is able to connect the dots of the information it receives in a way that’s so subtle, it’s not even understood by the conscious brain. It’s simply translated into a “feeling” instead.
So stop and listen. What is your heart saying? What is your body saying? Respect what you hear.
3. What Have You Learned?
The act of starting something—whether a project, a goal, a job, a New Year’s resolution or anything else—is a learning process in itself. Shifting course and “ending” something is just as valuable a lesson.
What do you know now about yourself (and about the world around you) that you didn’t know before? What, if anything, will you do differently next time? How will this experience and this decision change you?
As I’ve said before, this kind of thing isn’t “giving” up, it’s growing up. So focus on the growth and don’t beat yourself up. Course correction is a part of life. Few things move in straight, unobstructed lines.