Making a big life decision is tough. And sometimes you realise you’ve made a choice… and it turns out to be the wrong direction.
But our goals and desires naturally evolve, so it’s normal for our decisions to evolve with them. You may agonise over a U-turn, but you will eventually find that suffering a few embarrassing conversations is a small price to pay for making the right choice.
What to do
1. Make a choice, even if it is a bad one
These days we are bombarded with a wide range of choices, so the pressure to make the ‘right’ decision is huge. That makes it even harder to say that we made the wrong choice. As a result, we may become frozen and unable to change things. ‘The downside of unlimited choice is unlimited responsibility,’ says Barbara Kelley, author of Undecided: How To Ditch The Endless Quest For Perfect And Find the Career – And Life – That's Right For You (Avalon, £9.99). But a choice is always better than making no choice at all. ‘Failure is recoverable, regret is much tougher.’
2. If things change, admit it and embrace your U-turn
It’s hard to admit to a U-turn and risk looking like a time-waster. A U-turn is always dramatic and very public: there’s no way of avoiding gossip or judgement. But if you want to enjoy your choices, you must overcome fear. If you still have doubts, ask close friends for advice before you go public. And remember: a U-turn is not a sign of weakness. You shouldn’t beat yourself up when you decide to change track. Alex Lickerman, Buddhist and vice-president of student counselling services at the University of Chicago, agrees: ‘Circumstances never remain static, so why should our responses to them be forever locked in their initial form? The best answer often changes over time.’
3. Have a strategy and use your U-turn to inspire others
There is no need to apologise for turning back, unless it affects others. You can successfully exit from a U-turn: ‘Explain the reasoning behind your decisions and how you’ve made your new decision in time,’ says founder of Life Clubs Nina Grunfeld. Be brave and confident, holding on to your conviction. Your boldness in changing direction can inspire others. Some may even become envious: lots of people wish they had the courage to change course like you.