When I was younger – in my teens and twenties – I often was asked some version of:
Julie, how do you make such good decisions?”
I thought it was a bizarre question and had no idea what people were asking me. I didn’t consciously make “good decisions” – I was just living my young life.
After this question came up enough times, I realized people are pointing to something within me.
Sometimes we call this an unconscious competency or the golden shadow… something that comes so natural to us that we don’t realize it’s a gift.
We all have these kinds of gifts.
Over the years I’ve reflected on this question and how I make “good decisions” for myself.
It’s all about Self-Trust.
Firstly, I am connected to my inner voice. I listen to that voice OVER my rational mind and it’s always served me.
As an example, when I graduated from college with a business degree, I was offered a job in finance that paid $46k.
That was a lot of money for a starting salary in the early 2000s!
I was also offered an unpaid internship in the field of human rights and corporate sustainability.
It was a dream job – but it was unpaid and I had student loans to start paying.
I asked myself the question…
“Which of these jobs is going to take me where I want to go?”
I knew I wanted to do human rights work, and so the answer was simple…
I took the unpaid internship and worked odd jobs and babysat on the side to pay my rent. I was completely broke that summer.
Within a year, the human rights team hired me for a managerial position that required 8 years experience (I had a few months experience). I believe my starting salary was $56k/year.
It was my dream job.
Had I done the “safe” thing… who knows where I would be today.
The other key to making decisions that have really served me in my life is that I have never seen the results of my decisions that didn’t go well as failures. I don’t really see them as “bad decisions”.
For some reason, I could always see that a “wrong choice” taught me what I needed to learn so that I could do it differently in the future.
This has brought me a lot of wisdom through my “wrong choice” experiences.
Each “wrong decision” was the best decision I had access to at the time, with what I knew then. I have never equated those choices with “failure”…
The third piece in making “good decisions” is intrinsic trust in oneself to handle the consequences of the choice – good or bad.
I’ve always known that if my decision didn’t get me where I wanted to go or ended up poorly, that I had the ability to get through it. That I could walk through hard things and come out on the other side. That I would somehow be okay.
I attribute this ability to listen to my inner voice, in large part, to my mother.
When I was young and I would ask her what to do, she would say…”I don’t know, you always know best”
This could be really frustrating when I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. But it turned out to be the greatest gift because it allowed me to learn to deeply trust myself and take responsibility for my choices. It’s hard to blame someone else when they haven’t influenced your choice!
Sometimes my decisions made my parents nervous or uncomfortable, but they were my decisions.
As an adult, I asked her… “Mom, why did you trust me to make those kinds of decisions?” She said..”I could see you really did know what was best.”
What an incredible gift she gave me.
We each learn to deeply trust ourselves as we make choices for ourselves and learn from them – whether there were hard outcomes or positive outcomes of our choices.
What are your unconscious competencies or golden shadow? What comes so naturally to you as a gift that you haven’t even reflected on how you do it or how it’s serving you? How do you do it?
Share in the comments!