By Zain Mahmood
What to expect when you arrive at one of life’s intersections
When I was migrating to the US, I had very little to my name. My dad had suddenly died, leaving us with very few resources. I had a choice to make: Stay back in Bangladesh or come here to figure out my future.
I definitely didn’t have adequate resources, nor did I have all the information – but my gut told me I needed a fresh start – to make something of myself. A part of me was struggling to leave my family behind home. On one dusty evening, my mom sat me down and said: “Don’t worry about us, just go build your life; we will be OK.”
The rest is history. Three decades later, looking back, it’s the best decision I made in my life.
We arrive at decision intersections where one chooses to go right, left or straight – there’s really no way to stand still. Like in nature, if you stand still, there’s a strong chance you will be consumed by a predator.
How do you know you are making the right decision? How do you choose from the multiple possible options?
Sometimes, we also look back at our (past) decisions and ask if we made the right decision at that particular time.
There is only one answer to both of these dilemmas.
You have certain resources, information, and experiences at your disposal at a particular moment in time. Resources are rarely adequate, and often, the information available to you is incomplete and you still need to move forward.
Each time, I make the best decision I can, given the resources, experiences, and information I have at that moment; that’s the best I can do!
When my marriage started falling apart and I had to make the decision to divorce, I was not equipped to become a single dad, neither were there adequate resources or support. But it was clear denying treatment for my wife’s mental illness was not good for me, nor was it healthy for my two young children.
Against all odds (and some poor advice), I moved forward to re-define life, to become the best dad one could be, and go find happiness. It’s been over a decade and I am happier than I have ever been in my life.
There is no perfect decision.
There is no perfect time.
There is only imperfect information, insufficient resources, and intuition born of experience.
You do the best with what resources and information you have available.
Recently, I learned about the term “gaslighting.” When someone tries to sow doubt about you and your ability to achieve something or make a good decision. Someone told me that I took too many vacations last year and had “too much fun” and it doesn’t look good to my team members!
I was both surprised and taken aback by this “gaslighting.” He was trying to insert doubt in my mind, as if I had committed a “crime.” My close friends and family (and co-workers) know that 2022 was a milestone year for me and I planned/announced it to everyone.
After eight years of hard work and single parenting, I finally met and married someone I truly love – I have re-positioned my life and curated my own happiness. Those who can’t see this or appreciate that moment with me, are driven by some internal agenda of doubt. It says more about them, than about my decision to make it one of the most memorable years of my life.
Don’t let stragglers make you question your decisions or insert doubt in your abilities.
It’s important to keep an open ear/mind to other viewpoints, but to a degree. Don’t let that be the deciding viewpoint.
Trust yourself and all the experiences that have brought you here.
I have learned to live with NO regrets.
Do more things that you enjoy, with people you love.
Today, as I sit at one of those intersections. I bring all my personal experiences from the past. I am much better equipped than younger Zain who was leaving Bangladesh, or when his marriage was falling apart
I love where I live, and live where I love.
Two beautiful daughters are grown up and starting their own life journeys.
I am in the most meaningful and caring relationship of my life and we share common joys. We are surrounded by friends who care and make time for us.
Professionally, I’ve experienced unique and novel situations that have allowed me to re-invent myself, solve complex problems, and be part of diverse global teams.
Struggles with losing a parent early, immigrating and adapting to a foreign land, losing my footing to family illness and death, and complex work environments are all life defining experiences that have made me stronger and much more resilient.
I have everything one needs to make great decisions.
This has been reproduced with permission from zainmahmood.wordpress.com