It Is Great to Change Your Mind About What You Want To Do
Changing your mind is not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you are indeterminate or you don’t know what you are doing. According to my experience, just the opposite is true.
It is perfectly fine to change your mind. More than that – it is great if you allow yourself to change your mind every once in a while. This is a sign of progress.
In fact, if you never ever change your mind about anything, it might mean that you stopped living. Or that you just don’t want to learn anymore.
I used to be this person who believed that frequently changing my mind about what I wanted to do meant that there was something wrong with me. People would be telling me: “you can’t be constantly changing your mind!” or “just pick something and stick to it”. They were reflecting my insecurity back at me. I believed their words and I believed that there was something I needed to fix, if I was to live my life successfully.
The good news is that you don’t need to believe this.
You don’t have to embrace other people’s beliefs as your own
We are taught that changing our mind frequently is not beneficial. It leads to unfinished projects, destroyed trust and wasted resources. It is also a sign that we don’t know what we want in life, we are inconsistent, can’t bear the consequences of our deeds… A bad sign, in general.
I manifested this sign frequently at some stage of my life. I would engage in a project just to move on to another one in due time. At one point, I was spending my time extensively on academic research, but then found a travel agency I wanted to work for. Then there was this art project we came up with with my friends – so I decided to leave travel agency to develop that. And then again, after a couple of months of hard work, I felt this was not a place I wanted to be in. So in spite of feeling guilty towards my friends, I decided that I needed more time for myself and stepped out of the project. This was the moment I started to consciously facilitate my emotional growth and I figured that I required proper time for it. Lots of time. After a while, I started writing again. Then moved places a couple of times, worked different jobs, lived with different people… I think most people who knew me at that time would say without hesitation that I was constantly changing my mind.
I was curious to try out all the different things. To find out what I liked and didn’t like doing. I also realized that I was learning lots of life skills and lots about myself on the way. Even if I didn’t know at the time how I would use all of that in the future, I was sure my experiences were valuable and necessary. On my own, I felt very confident that what I was doing – “changing my mind” so often – was just right for me.
I only encountered problems when I took other people’s opinions as more important than my own. Some of the people I interacted with didn’t seem to approve of these frequent changes in my life. And fair enough – this was not how they wanted to live their lives, and this was what they were expressing. But to me it felt like I had to confront their beliefs and defend my own.
This led me to many moments when I trusted their judgements more than I trusted myself. Even though deep inside I knew that I was simply following my path and preparing to take more serious decisions, I still listened to people saying things like: “If you keep changing your mind all the time, you will get nowhere”. And I felt afraid. What if they were right? What if there was some terrible future awaiting me, because I couldn’t stick to one job, one place and one group of friends – just like “normal” people do?
Luckily, even if I was afraid, I gradually managed to invite a new belief about my circumstances – a belief of my own. In this new paradigm, the fact that I changed my mind so often meant something different. It was an indicator that I was flexible, open-minded and curious, rather than careless or unreliable. It was a sign that I was evolving and learning, therefore my mind and ideas about what I wanted to do obviously changed. Finally, I observed how jumping between various environments, jobs and friends helped me narrow my focus down to what I really liked doing.
Let’s see what happened next.
Why you have to change your mind
In Polish language we have this proverb, saying that “only a cow doesn’t change her mind”. This supposedly means that humans do. Especially humans that are in love with life and want to make the most out of it – just like you and I.
I now know for a fact that what other people called “changing my mind” was just an external indicator of me looking for the best way to live my life and satisfying curiosity. It was never meant to be interpreted as a sign that something was wrong with me, or I was stupid, or I would never succeed. I want you to realize this for yourself as well.
“I wondered why changing one’s mind is often so difficult. After all, both the world and our view of it are constantly changing; circumstances never remain static, so why should our responses to them be forever locked in their initial form?” – Alex Lickerman, Changing Your Mind
The truth is that everyone has to change their mind sometimes. Otherwise you would be now stuck with the decisions you made when you were five! But your present circumstances and yourself are most likely different now from what they were back then. So why wouldn’t your decisions and ideas be different, too?
Making up your mind about what you want to be doing with your life is a process which needs constant updates. Every day you live through new experiences, learn new things, gather new observations. All of these are clues, based on which you create your vision for the future. And if you pay attention to these ever-changing clues – you have to change your mind once in a while. It is inevitable. It is simple as that.
I assume that if you are reading this article, you want to be intentional about how you spend your life. This means that you are either:
actively searching for your purpose/mission/something you love doing
you have decided what you want, but are still looking for ways to bring it about.
In both cases you will be changing your mind quite a lot, and in both cases it is crucial that you do so. Let me tell you – basing on my experience – why it is so essential and how it helps you grow.
“Changing one’s mind” vs. “adjusting the vision”
Let’s not call this process “changing our mind” anymore. The wording we use matters, because it conditions the way we interpret our experience. Therefore, the phrase I prefer to use here is “adjusting the vision”. It alters the way we perceive ourselves and our choices in the process of building our life.
Changing your mind indicates that you feel lost, uncertain and rely on external circumstances in how you make your decisions.
Adjusting your vision suggests that there is an intention behind your actions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t realize it consciously yet. The intention is there. And the process of adjusting your vision is just a necessary part of uncovering this intention.
So let me now get back to the story of how I have been adjusting my vision. Even when I was afraid.
Looking for purpose
With the passage of time, I naturally started seeing which were the activities I enjoyed and was good at. I realized that whatever I was doing – academia, travel agency, art project or working in a hotel – I always looked for opportunities to write something. I was – sometimes unconsciously – using all of these experiences as my writing playground. Each of them served a purpose in establishing my confidence as a writer. Some gave me inspiration and topics to write about, others allowed me to publish my work or get feedback from other people.
I didn’t realize it in the beginning. At first, all the different jobs and circumstances appeared to me as random, as just “me trying out new things”. But because I observed myself and my experience consistently, I started noticing patterns. I wanted to write wherever I went. I just lacked confidence that this could be something more than just a hobby, that this could be my way of living. So I was travelling and testing myself in different circumstances to accumulate this confidence. I was, more or less consciously, building up the momentum.
And then time came to get rid of distractions and take a firm decision. I already trusted enough in my skills and inner strength. Not so much was it about believing that “I am an amazing writer”. It was rather awakening to the fact that I will be alright no matter what, and I can learn whatever I want – including how to be an amazing writer.
I got enough validation from within and from without, that the only thing I can seriously pursue right now is writing. And as soon as I learned this, I knew I had to get to work.
Then, “adjusting my vision” would obviously be a part of this work.
Adjusting vision is inevitable in creative work
Creative work is something that many of us want to do and even have an idea for how to start. So what stops us from giving it a go?
Of course, we know the answer – fear. But it is not just the fear of not being good enough, skilled enough, lucky enough to succeed. It is also the fear of having to adapt our plans. The fear that it will be necessary to adjust our vision.
I only surpassed this fear a few months ago, when I lost my job and decided not to look for another one, but rather create one for myself. It felt like throwing myself into a huge, deep lake and forcing myself to swim. There was no other way to take this decision – because I was so afraid.
At the same time I know how to swim and once I am off shore, I am willing to swim across the whole lake. But, if needed, I am also ready to change my course. If the wind is blowing too hard against my face, I am ready to retreat and just float on the water with the wind, until I regain my powers. There is always a way to adjust. And I am willing to adjust my vision, whenever necessary.
It has been happening recently. I had to change the idea for what I will be writing about – multiple times. I had to forgive myself for not writing the blog for the past month, as opposed to what I have decided – first that I would publish twice, then once a week. I had to evaluate how I write and what I write about, and invite specific changes. I switched from wanting to write content for all possible clients to focusing on the well-being industry exclusively.
All these changes were not really changing my idea about what I wanted to do. They were purely adjustments, necessary to make after I tested some things in practice. Forcing myself to publish twice a week quickly led to the quality of my articles decreasing. Therefore, I adjusted and started publishing once a week. Writing for businesses about which I knew close to nothing didn’t make much sense – I would spend way more time researching than writing, and even then I still wouldn’t be an expert. Therefore, focusing on writing about what I already knew seemed like a better idea.
I used to beat myself up for “not following the plan” or “changing my mind”. Until I realized that this is inevitable if you are doing something for the first time. You cannot know how this thing works, until you test it. So you test it, then adjust it. This is how we progress. This is how we learn and this is how we create.
We learn in the process of adjusting. Changing our minds. Remaining flexible, while focused on our intention. Being open to embrace opportunities that appear on the way. Being open to learn from our mistakes.
You can call it as you like. On the surface, it may seem that you are “changing your mind” all the time. But as long as you know what you are truly committed to – or you are actively trying to discover it – these changes are beneficial.
Don’t be afraid to change.