Have you ever been facing a decision, known in your gut what choice you were going to make, and then… asked someone else for their advice instead of choosing?
I do this a lot.
I first noticed about 10 years ago, when I found an apartment in New York. I’d been living with Craigslist roommates in Brooklyn for months and I hated living with other people I barely knew. I didn’t know if I could afford a place on my own.
But soon after I started looking, I came across a dumpy studio on 1st Ave and 11th Street. At 180 square feet, it fit a bed, a loveseat, a table, and not much else. There were about 3 feet between the bed and the only window, which looked directly on to the sidewalk. I’m talking eye-level with sidewalk traffic. No setback. The rent was also about $50 a month more than I wanted to spend.
On the other hand, it was on 1st Ave and 11th St. I could walk to work and just about anywhere else I wanted to go. The block was fairly quiet, so there wasn’t all that muchsidewalk traffic. It was a dream I didn’t even know I had to live alone in Manhattan. But then again, it was so small, even by New York standards.
I could say no and keep looking. After all, I’d found this one fairly easily. Or was that a one-in-a-million fluke? …
I didn’t know what to do. (Yes, I did. I’ll get to that.)
So I called my mom and asked her what she would do. She ran through her decision and her reasoning for it.
I remember that conversation 10 years later. Not because of the conversation itself. I don’t even remember whether she said to take it or leave it.
I remember because I had an epiphany after we hung up. That conversation was absurd. PREPOSTEROUS!
HER decision? Not only did she not live in New York, she’d never lived in New York, not as a single woman with no children, not in any other time of her life. And she didn’t know anything about what mattered more to me. Space or location? The chance to live alone or the chance to save money on moving expenses and stay in a new, modern building? She didn’t even know how much I made so she didn’t really know what I could afford.
Only I knew. That meant only I could decide.
Once I realized that, I went with the choice I’d decided on before I picked up the phone, and rented the apartment.
I wish I could tell you this was the last time I faced a decision, knew in my gut what I wanted to do, but agonized for days or weeks because I thought someone else might have some key piece of information and if I only knew it, it might make me see I was walking straight toward the wrong choice.
Someone else, like my mom, who had lots of life experience! She’d rented loads of apartments. (In California. In the ‘70s.)
But still! She loved me and wanted what was best for me.
But she had none of what she would need to make a decision that would make ME happy. As in…. she wasn’t me.
What am I saying here? The internet is full of advice.
You could even see this piece of writing as advice about why you shouldn’t take any advice!
That’s not what it is though. I’m sharing my experience because today I had another aha! similar to that moment I hung up with my mom.
Every day, I face choices about where to spend my time in my own business. Many people have an opinion. Many of them have founded successful online businesses. But they are men. Or they did it 10 years ago. Or they’re childless. Or, or, or…
They’re not me. Only I know. Only I can decide. It was true then, and for me at least, it’s still true today.