You Can Only Have One

by Raymond Moody, M.A.

Sometimes we are fortunate enough that we have multiple appealing options to choose from. We may look at the dessert menu and see that two of our favorite desserts are listed. We may be invited to two different parties on the same night by two of our really good friends. Some of my friends have expressed a lot of excitement when they get multiple Tinder dates for the same weekend but sometimes they are on the same night and they must choose. In the earlier examples there may be a practical solution that satisfies your desire to have both. For example, you could just order both desserts and you could split your time between parties. In other situations, choosing one decision may mean that you have to let go of the other option. For example, a friend of mine recently received two amazing job offers from two different companies. Faced with the decision of choosing one offer over the other he experienced a lot of anxiety. His primary fear was that he would choose the wrong offer and would miss out on a better opportunity. He was spending a lot of energy and experiencing a lot of distress trying to avoid any future regret.

During our conversation, we spent a little time outlining the pros and cons of both job offers. What did he like about each company? What did he dislike about each company? After examining both lists he was leaning slightly toward choosing one offer. But what if there was something he wasn’t thinking about and he realized this after he accepted one offer and rejected the other offer? Could he be ok with making the wrong decision? My friend admitted that he was thinking that the wrong decision would be awful. That if he chose the wrong company now that it would somehow block his opportunity for a better job in the future. It wasn’t much of a stretch for him to think that his success rested wholly on this decision. We discussed the possibility of him never knowing if the decision he made was the right one and could he live with that uncertainty. Looking back at the pros and cons list I asked him how two offers that seem almost identical could have such drastically different outcomes. He agreed that he may never know and focused his energy on tolerating the uncertainty. He was able to make a decision and is looking forward to starting his new job.

And that’s what life is about at times.  We are going to be faced with options where we can only choose one.  We may get it “right” some of the time, and we also will probably get it “wrong” some of the time.  We can stand getting it wrong, it’s not the end of the world, and it just shows us that we’re human…

Ray Moody

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