At the risk of sounding like the charismatic leader of a religious cult (still on my bucket list, by the way), I’m going to advocate something new the next time you have a significant decision or opportunity in front of you.
Think about what we would do with the same decision in front of us. Yes, you read it correctly. When wondering how to make a decision ask yourself,
“What would Warren and Betsy do?”
Take yourself completely out of the equation and imagine us telling you about the opportunity and our decision and how it was going to impact our lives. Think about us telling you in person, or you reading it some day on the blog. How would you react? Would you wish you could do it, too?
I’m not advocating this because I’m vain (though I am vain). I’m advocating this because people are already doing it and telling us how it helped them get out of their own way and make big decisions. This strategy works.
The most recent story was a Canadian woman who was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relocate from North America to Europe while she was on an extended vacation, but she had to give her answer quickly. Her first thought (which she admitted to us later): “What would Warren and Betsy do?”
When she told us we laughed, because it is a story we are hearing more and more. And hey, we are more than happy to be the stand-in characters for your decision-making process, believe me. It is a really effective strategy to take yourself out of the moment and visualize as a bystander because you can see so many more options (and realistic problems) this way.
This woman took herself out of the equation and imagined what someone else would do – someone she admired because of a particular personality trait she wanted to develop (in this case, our comfort with environmental change).
She’s now living the expat life in a beautiful village and running her small business over the internet. Little does she know we’re going to pop in and see her one day. Hope she has a spare bedroom.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in ourselves and how a decision would negatively impact us, or the logistical considerations, that we completely overlook all the benefits or spend our times worrying about freakish possibilities that would never really happen. We let our fears get in the way, real and imagined. We think about how it would affect everyone around us, and we extrapolate the decision out over the years, as if we can predict the future. Sometimes we forget who we have become and instead try to make the decision based on who we used to be.
What started out as a simple opportunity is now a possibility burdened by liability, probability, and history. You can see why it would be too exhausting to even contemplate a decision after piling all that crap on top of such a brilliant opportunity.
Placing yourself outside the decision-making process and allowing someone else evaluate the opportunity can give you the perspective you need to make a good decision. It removes the baggage of your history, current circumstances, and expectations.
It doesn’t mean you’ll always do what you think we’d do, but it does mean you’ll start to look at the opportunities in front of you in a clearer, bolder way.
Just know that if you tell us about it we might show up on your doorstep to help you celebrate. (Don’t worry; we won’t show up empty-handed.)
Do you know someone struggling with a big decision? Share this article with them. Who knows, they might just envision you as their ideal problem solver!