Back in 2000, when I was deciding whether to accept the invitation to join Teach For America and move to rural Louisiana for at least two years, I had to call the national office and ask for an extension on the deadline. And then I had to fly there to visit. And, even then, I was lying on my sofa--staring at the ceiling fan with hopes of a divine sign in the cracks--just four minutes before my second, final deadline.
Maybe it's because on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test I am a T (thinker) who is close to being an F (feeler). And, unfortunately, my thoughts don't always match my feelings, and yet I want to give them equal credence.
Maybe it's because choices feel so heavy to me. Each choice leads you down a particular path, away from other potentially better paths.
I once read a book called, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The lightness of being is this idea that once a decision is made it only occurs once. Moments don't play out for all of eternity. It happens once and the world moves on.
I, on the other hand, subscribe more to the theory of The Immense Heaviness of Being. Each decision opens a door but it closes other doors. And the door you opened leads to new open doors, but it leads away from other doors, too. Thus, according to this perspective, we must make each decision wisely. We must fully consider all the ramifications and implications of our choices. This approach reminds me of my Seventh Generation dish detergent. The box reads: "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.--From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy"
Long story, short: I have issues with decision-making. However, I have come up with an approach that works for me:
My strategy is to do a lot of thinking and a lot of feeling (while sitting, walking, and writing). Then I come up with a tentative decision. I then live with the decision as if I have already made it.
For example, if I'm deciding whether or not to accept a new job offer, I make the decision (let's say it's yes in this example). I then live as if I have decided to accept the job offer. I start preparing for it in my mind. I think about what I need to start doing to get ready. I also tell people that I've accepted the job offer (in my mind!). I'm basically testing out the decision. Seeing how it feels. Asking myself: Do you feel exhilarated or do you feel queasy?
(Editor's Note: Despite all the heaviness I attach to each decision, I also give myself permission to make any choice, knowing that even if it turns out to take me down a path I didn't want to go, it will also take me to new doors that I never would have found otherwise. It all works out in the end.)
Needless to say, I had a hard time deciding to marry Matt (and even date him, for that matter). It wasn't anything about Matt. It was about me and my own neurosis around decision-making.
When I eventually made the secret decision to marry him and tried to test it out in my head before I said anything to the world, I actually bought a website name for us, so we would have a place to capture our life together.
That website name eventually became our wedding website. If you're interested in seeing it, you should take a look before it gets repurposed as a website about our entire life, rather than just our wedding.
Our approach to our wedding website was to provide people with all the information they needed. We wanted to minimize the wasted paper associated with printing all the necessary travel and reception information. We only have a few non-tech savvy people in our close circle, so we just printed the information for them. We even asked people to RSVP online to eliminate the wasted paper associated with reply cards and envelopes, the wasted energy and the pollution of moving those reply cards across the country, and the wasted money with more stamps. We also encouraged people to post comments on the Carpooling Page, so they could coordinate rides from the airport to the wedding. We also had an interactive feature where people could upload a picture of themselves and write a little bio blurb. We did everything we could to build community among our friends and family before the actual event.
Even though everything was on the website, people still needed reminders. Once a month, I sent a Wedding Update (T-Minus __ Days) to remind people to RSVP, send us a scrap of fabric, pack their umbrellas, etc.
It was fun to try and personalize our website and share our lives with our guests. I highly recommend it.