Split second decisions can change everything

Sometimes a small choice has big consequences. Sometimes key events start with small actions.

Thirteen years ago yesterday, I sat in my dorm room, working on homework. My parents, alumnus of the college, were coming for the homecoming celebration that day, and my inner perfectionist/workaholic/Type A personality would’ve been on an adrenalin rush except that my depression and hunger had worn me down.

I was severely depressed, anorexic and bulimic. My parents knew this—checking on me was probably one reason why they were coming—and when my mom walked into my room, she sucked in her breath. I can’t remember exactly what we said in those first five minutes, but the next five seconds changed my life.

“Do you want to go home?”

“Yes.”

No hesitation. No thought. A split second decision that changed everything.

That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. But thirteen years has given me 20/20 vision and I still think that it changed a good deal of my future. I wouldn’t be in the same town, wouldn’t have met my husband, wouldn’t have graduated from the local university or gone to graduate school. I’m not certain where I would be, but it probably wouldn’t be here. It wouldn’t necessarily be better or worse, just different.

Thinking back to that little-big decision, I remembered what a man in my church small group said a few weeks ago. We were talking about key events in our lives. He said that key events are often  small actions. In his case, he knocked on the door of a female acquaintance’s apartment, intending to borrow money for lunch, and wound up married to her. (Not on the same day.) Small action. Big change.

I tend to think of life-changing decisions as those huge, earth-shattering ones, marked by soul-searching and sleepless nights. Those do matter.

But the moment-by-moment decisions make a big difference, too. How I spend my time, what I think about, who I hang out with: those minutes add up to hours, days, a life. Usually these choices are made so quickly that I don’t realize what the consequences might be, why am I deciding this, or how I and other people will be affected.

I don’t have to agonize over every itty-bitty decision—some really are inconsequential—but I do have to remember that certain split second choices will have huge consequences.

Have you ever made a quick decision that changed your life?

Photo Credit: Africa/FreeDigitalPhotos

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