Have you ever made a new year’s resolution that you’ve actually kept? About one year ago, I made a resolution. It wasn’t in January, but the intention was the same: I wanted to change something in my life, and I wanted to make sure I gave myself the tools to stick with the decision, no matter how uncomfortable the change could become. My personal goal involved working on making decisions based not upon logic or rational thought, but instinct and feeling.
This particular goal may seem a little strange, after all, isn’t it important to think through things, weighing positives and negatives and using logic as a barometer? I acknowledge that rational thought is certainly an important faculty to use when decision-making, but only if you’re able to use it without letting it paralyze your every move.
Every decision I made was not only calculated, it was executed to a painful degree. I not only considered contingency plans, what-ifs and worst case scenarios to my every decision, I had back up plans for each of those, as well. It took me weeks to make a move on anything and by the time I did, I was so exhausted and knew the outcome already—that the adventure and fun that was supposed to come with forks in the road had dissipated.
I don’t think I would have known what my intuition was telling me if it had personified and slapped me in the face.
When I moved to London last year, I promised myself that I would stop living my life according to my well-thought strategies and action plans, and start doing what felt right, natural and would make me happy. I had a very simple rule: what physically felt light was the right decision for me, and what felt heavy was wrong.
Now everyone thinks I’m a raving lunatic.
Every time I open my mouth, I feel like a different plan comes out. I’m constantly adapting my ideas and plans to new experiences and stimuli, and I’ve gained the reputation of being a bit of a flibbertigibbet, in the words of my mother.
I’ve found that without an overarching plan I wander from one alternative to the other as quickly, easily and naturally as most people change t-shirts. This year, I’ve changed my mind on my place of permanent residence, choice of partner and career path. You name it, I’ve changed it—multiple times. No, scratch that, a myriad of times. Most people can’t keep up, and I know that the friends I speak to only on occasion feel like they speak to a new person every time we get together.
Amidst the constant culture shock that comes with meeting new people and trying new experiences, I’ve found that following my feelings isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It’s not an absolute compass, because, unlike plans you lay down in pen, feelings can, and often do, change. Just when I think I’ve decided on something, I have an experience, perhaps completely unrelated to what I’ve decided upon, that seems to shift my perspective and, in turn, my decision. I’ve fallen into a trap of apologizing for my ever-changing mind. I often precede conversations with, “I’m sorry, but…”, even if no one else in the conversation is affected by my change of heart. I’ve decided I have to stop doing this.
If we’re not bowing out on a commitment or hurting someone in the process, it should be perfectly acceptable to revise our decisions given new insights and experiences. Just think about all the progress that would have never happened if scientists, politicians, theorists and the like had inflexibly stuck to their original plans and didn’t revise based on new external experience and insight every once in a while.
Maybe I’m indulging myself a bit too much by letting myself be carried along solely by my gut feelings. Maybe when I promised myself to feel my way into the answers nine months ago, I created a monster. But it’s better to be open to new experiences and revise accordingly than stay on a path that starts to feel unauthentic or unwise. When I start to feel those unpleasant waves churning in the pit of my stomach, I know I’m starting down a path that will bring me pain and doubt—so I back track and start making a new one.
Trite and obvious as it sounds, I know that change can be extremely scary. Even if you’ve acknowledged that you’ve had an experience that has changed your path, it can be daunting to take action and go with the flow. You might not see where to begin, or you might just be wary that people will start to think that you’re a little bit of a flibbertigibbet.
But maybe, just maybe, invoking your right to change your mind could be the most empowering, exciting thing that’s ever happened to you.
Once you decide to make the jump, take the fall and find that you can land on your feet, you might be addicted to the rush. You might never want to put yourself in a situation that will make those waves turn into a tsunami. You might decide that feeling heavy and burdened just isn’t worth it. Maybe, just maybe, despite the scariness and inconsistency of change, you’ll start to live life as an experiment that needs reformulating every now and again to keep it progressing along the right path.
Known as the girl who could talk herself out of a paper bag, Khaleelah Jones has always loved sharing her voice with others, particularly as a yoga teacher. Khaleelah has been practicing yoga for over seven years and has been a teacher for a little over one year. Khaleelah is a freelance writer and can be found writing and yoga-ing (and making up verbs) around London. Keep in touch on www.khaleelahjones.com
Editor: Maja Despot
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