The discipline for a new decision

Ten years ago, I made a decision once to write this blog every day. That single decision carried me through more than 3,600 posts without ever missing a day. But circumstances at work and at home have changed. My world isn’t the same as it was in 2009. And it eventually became clear that the original decision had run its course, and it was time to make a new decision.

Lesson #22 of my final 31 posts: When facts, events, or circumstances bring change, have the discipline to make a new decision.

My life and work are very different today than they were in 2009. Ten years ago, I ran Collegewise alone. We had fewer than ten employees and only four locations. I was arguably the most knowledgeable of our counselors and the only Collegewiser who wrote and published advice regularly. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have kids. The decision to start blogging daily made sense as an experiment, one that I would carry on as long as it continued to made sense.

Today, I enjoy sharing Collegewise leadership responsibilities with my partners. I’ve forged new expertise around managing, leading, hiring, and training, all of which I get to use here every day. There are dozens of counselors here who are more in touch with the most recent trends in admission than I am. And my work hours are more defined now that I have a family at home. I still enjoy blogging, but the decision that made sense ten years ago doesn’t make as much sense today, and it was time to make a new one.

Sometimes we attach ourselves to a past decision because it’s too hard to give it up. We don’t want to acknowledge what’s different today. We worry we’ve invested too much to change direction now. We’re afraid of the change in ourselves or our work or our life. It feels safer and easier to just stay the course.

But part of good decision-making means confronting the facts, no matter how brutal they may be. It means ignoring the sunk costs and viewing a decision like a bet where the decision and the outcome are separate entities. And sometimes it means having the discipline to make a new decision that improves our odds of getting where we’re trying to go.

That decision you made long ago to play the piano or apply to Duke or major in business, does it still make sense today? Or have facts, circumstances, or events presented the need to make a new decision?

There’s a lot of value in sticking with something and working through the difficult part. Most successful people get that way in large part because they don’t bail out just because the going gets tough. But they also don’t keep going just to say they kept going. They’re willing to strip emotion out and compare their world of yesterday to that of today. And when it improves their odds to do so, they have the discipline to make a new decision.