Decisions should be made quickly and changed slowly, if ever. (Think and Grow Rich,1938). When I came upon Napoleon Hill’s writing, I experimented. Decide quickly. Be slow to change that decision. It was tough.
I always thought I had to decide slowly. Take time for research, weigh options, and finally go with the best. Once you’ve done that, there’s little room for argument down the road. The decision is set in stone.
It’s a lot of work, though, to have to decide slowly all the time. When I started strength training, I wanted to have a big and muscular upper body. I used the best “workouts” from magazines. The problem with the workouts was that there was no timeline to them. It just said to do this set for these muscles. Then another issue would come the next month, and that one said to do this other set.
I went from one routine to the next, not wanting to settle with one until I found the best. I didn’t have a solid method for myself. The magazine, of course, aims to keep readers hooked on their subscription. This wouldn’t work if there was just one training routine, to be performed over and over, the same way, for months and years. No, they mix it up, ride on people’s confusion, and highlight various stories of celebrity success.
Eventually, I was changing my methods on a daily basis. I would walk into the gym, pick a workout for a part of my body that wasn’t too sore, and do as much weight as I thought I should be able to do. More often than not, the point was to lift the weight. I had low standards of form. I often hurt myself. This led to mental decay. I wasn’t seeing any true progression despite my greatest efforts.
Only at a point of pain and deep misery did I finally snap out of it. I just decided all of a sudden, this is not working. I need a change.
I decided to turn away from body building, and focus on strength training. I looked it up and found a clear solution. So I immediately decided to follow it.
There was a conviction behind my decision. It was so simple that it seemed right. Five exercises. Progressively increase weight. Religiously track progress. Provide room for recovery through rest and deloading. Continue.
My gut told me it was the way to go. So I did. And I went on to lift more than I’ve ever done in my life. I had less pain, less suffering, less confusion.
This is one result of a quick, slow-changing decision. If every decision I made were like this, I think I would be a simpler, more effective, more alive man. Someone “so genuine and unsophisticated that no introduction would serve to introduce him, more than if you introduced a wood chuck to your neighbor.” (Thoreau, Walden 1854)
It’s not natural to jump into something and commit to stay. We only want to jump if we know there’s an easy way out. For everything else, we look around, gather all the information, until we felt comfortable enough to dip in with a toe.
Even after we’ve gone knee deep, we sometimes back out, not liking the temperature of the water, or the murkiness, or the flies.
Let’s end up on the opposite shore. Even if we haven’t painstakingly sought out the calmest water, tasted it, felt the temperature, walked around the edge, and mulled and mulled.
When I think about it, we don’t need all that vacillation. It’s simpler to just swim there, and find another shore if that one doesn’t satisfy.