NO, THIS IS NOT MY LAST BLOG POST! I’m only just getting started!
A few days ago, a group of bloggers decided to write their “last post.” The premise was, if you had one last blog post to make before you died, what would you say? The inspiration for this project was The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch.
I learned about this from Guy Kawasaki, who wrote on his blog, “How to Change the World, ” that if he knew when he was going to die, he’d stop writing blog posts and spend as much time as he could with his family.
I feel the same way, but would also want to make sure — as Randy Pausch apparently did — that my children remembered whatever words of wisdom I’d tried to impart.
So if I were to write down my number one piece of advice to my kids, it might be to go with their gut in all things. “When you know, you know” — people say this about choosing the right spouse, but it also applies to choosing the right career, neighborhood, house, friends, everything.
I didn’t start operating this way until my thirties, and once I did, everything fell into place. After a lifetime of romantic confusion, I met and married my husband, whom I’ve loved unwaveringly since our first date almost eight years ago. We found a house that we both wanted from the moment we laid eyes on it. I quit practicing law (I was the most unlikely corporate lawyer on earth) and finally became a writer — which I’d wanted to be since I was four years old.
I think that it can be hard for cerebral people to operate this way. We’re so used to thinking things through — we LOVE to think things through. It’ s our form of meditation.
But when it comes to many of life’s big decisions, the very fact that you have to think about them suggests that you might be on the wrong path. I don’t mean to suggest that everything must come easily. It could take a long time, a really long time, to find the right person, or figure out your life purpose, or find a neighborhood you love. (This last one took my husband and me years.) But once you stumble upon it, it should be recognizable.
(Similarly, if you find yourself anxiously asking your friends what they think, beware. If you were truly crazy about your new flame, or about the apartment you’re planning to buy, you wouldn’t have to ask.)
How about you? Do you tend to go with your gut, and to what result?
(P.S. Take a close look at the photo above — it’s got lots of optical illusions embedded in it, all of them relevant!)
Alexis Yee Lyn Chan just had a brilliant tweet on this post that I’d like to share. It said:
“I think mentally working through long-term priorities is more helpful than event-specific deliberation.”
Whew! Thank goodness this is not your last blog post. I just found you. I treasure all things that regard introversion in a positive light. The Introvert Advantage is one of my fave books as well.
About decision making. As much as I love the “follow your heart” mantras, I get myself into bunches of trouble when I do that. Yet I follow my instincts and intuition if that makes any sense. I always get excellent results when I do. Being cerebral I over analyze but as you say only when I try to make something happen that most likely my heart wants but is not in my best interest. Stumbling upon what’s right is a feeling of the heart and mind recognizing at the very same time…IT.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gro Fossum, susancain. susancain said: Decision-making for cerebral people: http://bit.ly/gjdm2r […]
I’m so glad I found your blog! Yes, I’ve always felt the same: “when you know, you know”, but it’s taken me a lifetime to truly know that I know. Nevertheless, I have always trusted my gut instincts and my intuition. I also agree that it can “take a long time, a really long time” to find things. My intuition told me in my twenties that I had to wait to find my “right person”. I did not understand why and resisted this knowledge, but I did, in fact, find him in my early thirties. We’ve been happily married for over 30 years now. I had to wait because he’s younger - who knew?
Thanks for writing!
Yes!!! When my husband asked me to marry him, I said yes right then-I didn’t need to think about it at all. Yesterday, we celebrated a very happy second anniversary. Similarly, when it was time to make a dramatic career change, I just knew, and the switch was such a great fit for me. And, on my spiritual/religious path, I’ve also recently had a number of experiences of not having to think-instead, some “wow” moments, and other moments of quiet certainty, both of which showed me that I was where I belonged. I, too, am in my 30s. My 20s were spent in my head-lots of thinking and agonizing and questioning and other such “noise.” The contrast is clear, and I am grateful for the growth and change…and peace!
I like how catchy your headline is. Interesting content though.
There are some rare folks who know from an early age to go with their gut. For the rest of us mere mortals, when you start to know yourself better (which for me also came in my 30s), you’re more able to trust your gut.
I think one of the hardest parts about doing this is that there are things that we “know” quickly but can’t explain quickly. To my mind, it doesn’t mean it’s instinctual or following your heart.
Rather, it’s more like we’re presented with something/someone who hits many of our internal buttons (interests, desires, aspirations, values, ideals, etc) simultaneously. The sum of that gets added up rapidly in our brains (our gut) without any real conscious process. If that makes any sense.
Lovely post. When I consider the best decisions I’ve made in my life, I notice that many of them were made very quickly, almost on the spur of the moment. Others were things that I had wanted since early childhood but could not pursue until the right complex of circumstances emerged at some point in my adult life. On the other hand, the few decisions I’ve made that I really regret were things that I hesitated over, things that felt distasteful or wrong at the time but that I nonetheless pursued because I was catering to others’ wishes or to an abstract (and perhaps misguided) sense of what was expected of me.
I strongly agree with your contention that, when it comes to life’s big decisions, the very fact that you have to think about them suggests that you might be on the wrong path. It is often valuable to reflect carefully on WHEN and HOW to do something, but if you hesitate about WHETHER to do it, you need to listen to the static.
@Jeff, I do think there is something magical about the 30s, for many people! Neuroses seem to melt away overnight.
Or maybe our neuroses mature.
Also so glad to have found your site - so much of this is resonating with me. As a chronic over-thinker myself - I recently wrote myself a reminder in my journal “when in doubt: stop thinking, start feeling”. And yes, I’m in my 30s too 😉
When I make decisions with the interference or pressure from others I love, they tend to be the wrong decisions for me and I’m filled with regret. However, when I know deep down in my soul the direction I should be traveling in, I feel confident that I made the correct choices for my life.