The One Year Tattoo Rule
When I turned 20, I gave myself a birthday present that would last forever: a tattoo. It’s a personal reminder of one of my favorite Bible verses placed right between my shoulder blades. Seeing as my pupils and my shoulder blades don’t often hang out much, I rarely see it, but there’s something reassuring knowing that those markings underneath my skin are more than just a spur of the moment decision I made one night while out with the boys. In fact the idea for this tattoo started long before my birthday, providing me a long period of time in which to decide whether this tattoo was something that I truly wanted to remain a part of me for the rest of my life.
Every decision you make requires a certain amount of time for that decision to be made with wisdom and prudence. For me, I’ve decided that the decision to get any tattoo requires around one year of consideration before implementation. During that time, I come up with ideas, listen to people’s opinions (positive and negative), navigate how/if my emotions change regarding the decision, and also allow my pool of ideas to develop, shift, or completely change. When I think about my approach to getting new tattoos, I think about the similar choice we all face when making any worthwhile decision in life. We are constantly faced with choices on how we will invest our time, our money, and our energy in life. Unfortunately, too often these important decisions are made in haste, resulting in either broken commitments or disappointing results, either of which could and should be avoided. As I’ve wrestled through these very decisions, I’ve come up with three rules that I feel can be helpful when facing important choices:
"Every decision you make requires a certain amount of time for that decision to be made with wisdom and prudence. "
Rule 1: “Maybe” is King
First off, you should almost ALWAYS wait to say yes or no right away. I know, I know, that club you were just invited into sounds super amazing and fulfilling and you’d probably do a lot of awesome stuff. But have you really thought through what it will require in terms of commitment? Instead of saying “Yes” or “No” right away, how about “Maybe”? Learn to give yourself the right amount of time for each decision you make but only the right amount of time and no more. However, "Maybe" is NEVER a final answer; it is merely a holding pattern until you decide the trajectory in which to launch your booster powered rocket jet pack of awesomeness!
Rule 2: Tune Regularly
You should have eliminated most of the questions regarding whether you made the right choice before you even made the choice but there will always be unforeseen circumstances that pop up later. In such cases, you may find yourself needing to ACCELERATE, CALIBRATE, or EVACUATE. If all signs seem to indicate you’re on the right path but you’re still experiencing lag, you may just need to ACCELERATE and push harder! However, it’s important to seek out the wisdom of those you believe to hold the most “applicable” experience and knowledge. If everything is going well but you’ve run into a few minor hiccups, you might need to CALIBRATE your plan. This normally happens before accelerating or evacuating because it’s the point where you try different options, tweak your target market, experiment with different tools or different methodologies, etc. Finally, if continuing down the road you set out on appears to be pushing you further from your ultimate goals, you may need to EVACUATE. This should be done with great prudence and caution as nobody likes having poured time, money, and or energy into an endeavor that never reaches fruition, but sometimes it’s much better to cut your losses. After all, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re running if you’re running in the wrong direction!
Rule 3: Be Alone
Being alone is underrated. It is incredible how much work your subconscious is allowed to do when it is given the space and time to simply think and ideate without the distraction or intervention of others around you. Do you remember the last time you got bored? Me neither. Nowadays with the world of information at our very fingertips and an ever-increasing pace of life, we allot our minds less and less time to run through the natural process it longs for of contemplation and processing. Get away for a bit and allow yourself to think. You won’t be disappointed.
"It doesn’t matter how fast you’re running if you’re running in the wrong direction!"
While I wouldn’t say these three rules are the magic formula to never making a bad choice in your life again, I do believe that adhering to them will dramatically help you in making decisions that are best for you in the long run. Waiting to give definitive answers, tuning your actions appropriately, and being alone are three great tips to help anyone give themselves the right resources for making decisions. After all, nobody wants to wake up with a strange tattoo that kind of looks like a girl mixed with Zach Galifianakis (that's for you, all my 2000's rock star fans).