Have you ever been backed into a corner? I am speaking literally here. When you are backed into a corner, it means your options are limited. If you want to move, you only have one, maybe two directions you can go. If given the choice, I am willing to bet that a lot of people would prefer to have more freedom than that, which is why it always perplexes me when I watch people back themselves into corners with their decision making.
There are a lot of people out there who make snap decisions as they arise, not bothering to think even two steps ahead. Invariably, these “instant gratification” decisions often limit future opportunities. I have seen people accept loans for failing businesses, move forward with a significant other who was not right for them, and even give in to a whining child just because that was the easy thing to do at the moment. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but decision making like that invariably leads to debt, divorce, entitlement, or a very limited amount of other less-than-stellar outcomes. It is important to think ahead, and even more important to abandon plans and paths when they are leading you to a corner.
It is difficult to abandon something we have invested our time, money, and emotion in…but true success comes only to those that can look forward, and plan for the future. If I come up with a business plan that I am really excited about, I will not begin building it until I have thought five, ten, even fifty steps ahead. Maybe something happens around step thirty that completely demolishes my plan. Is it better to dive in, full steam ahead and hope things will change? Or is it better to move on while there is still little to lose? While I still have free range of motion?
From what I have seen, success is proportional to how far ahead someone can look. Anyone who is short-sighted will see marginal success, at best. Someone who can detach emotionally, look to the future, and be honest about the likely course of action, will be able to make decisions that are smarter long-term and will reap the benefits.
It’s almost like eating a second helping of dessert. Sure, it will taste good, but you will probably wind up either gaining weight or needing to double your workout the next day in order to stay on track. Instead, think ahead, and abandon the gluttonous path early.
This rule of thumb on planning ahead applies across the board. Whether you are planning for your career, your personal life, or your hobbies, try to think about how that one action, one comment, and one decision will affect you down the road. Will it make your life easier, or harder?
Successful people don’t always make the right decisions, they are just quick to make new decisions when they realize their old ones are flawed. Do not be afraid to jump ship if the ship is sinking. The sooner you are out, the more time, energy, and emotion you will have to invest in something sustainable.