I heard myself say it again the other day:
“I just don’t know the right answer.”
I wasn’t even talking about anything super life-changing—just, like, what time to plan on a grocery run, or whether to go outside before the sun set, or which book to pick up next.
But I didn’t know the right answer.
Because… drumroll please… SOMETIMES THERE IS NO “RIGHT” ANSWER.
And there’s really no benefit to using our brain power and emotional energy to look for something that doesn’t exist.
For some things, there is a right answer.
For example: Should you wash your hands when you get home?
Right answer: YES. Yes you should.
For other things, though, there isn’t one right answer.
What will happen in the future? No right answer.
Should I get dressed, or stick to athleisure wear forever? No right answer.
What’s for dinner? (If you know the right answer, please message me.)
For me, the hardest questions are the “which of these options will turn out best in the long run” ones.
There is no way to know ahead of time! (Especially right now, but really always.) And yet I feel like I ought to be able to figure these out.
If only I think hard enough, or imagine enough scenarios in my mind, or check what the internet thinks… maybe then I will know!
(This never works.)
So here’s my suggestion, especially if you find yourself getting stuck trying to make the million and six decisions that today will require.
When you need to make a decision, ask yourself:
- Does this a question actually have a right answer and a wrong answer?
- Even if there IS a right answer, is it possible for ME to know the right answer right now?
If the answer is no:
If the answer to either question is no—either no, there is no right answer, or no, it’s not possible to know the right answer—try this.
Give yourself permission to not know what you can’t know.Wouldn’t it be neat if we knew, well, everything? We would always make the right decisions! Sadly, that is not the universe we are living in.
Give yourself permission to learn what you can, to use what you learn, and to move forward ANYWAY.
Give yourself permission to be wrong.I remind myself that everything is an experiment, and we’re going to get some things wrong. Naming that truth takes some of the pressure off.
If you can’t know for sure what the right answer is, trust yourself to make the best choice you can with the information you have.
Give yourself permission to try again.Sometimes you can look back and see that a decision didn’t end up the way you wanted—but you couldn’t have known that ahead of time. Okay, so, now that you know differently, choose differently going forward.
And one more bonus truth: Sometimes “I don’t know” is the right answer.
Not knowing doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard enough. It just means you’re honest.
And when you tell yourself the truth about it, then you can decide what to do next. (Ask for help? Investigate more? Press on anyway? These can all be the next right thing.)
There might not be a right answer, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck.
The truth is, not every question has a right answer.
If there is no right answer, tell yourself the truth about that. If you have no way of knowing the right answer, be honest about that too.
Because if we’re willing to tell the truth (the truth that there isn’t a right answer, or the truth that we don’t know the right answer), if we’re willing to pay attention to learn what we can, and if we’re willing to do our best, knowing we might be wrong, we don’t have to stay stuck.
Get out there. Make a decision. You can do this. xo.