Do you ever take a step back from your life and really examine how you got to where you are? I did this recently and was amazed to realize that the major moving pieces of my life are all traced back to 5 very small decisions. 5 things that at the time seemed minor, even inconsequential, but now are the roots of the most amazing aspects of my life today.
Small decision #1: I made plans to meet a friend for a run at the Arboretum after work.
Mid-summer 2008. It was a typical Tuesday and I decided to meet a friend of mine at the Arboretum for a run through the trails.
Outcome: On this particular run there was an older man walking through the prairie with a measuring wheel. When I returned to the parking lot he followed me there and asked me a few questions about running. After rummaging through his trunk he pulled out a flier that showed he was looking for an assistant coach for the Edgewood High School girls cross country team.
9 cross country seasons later I’ve helped build state champions, set new school records, and most importantly, cultivated amazing relationships with athletes and their families past and present. Some of my closest friendships were founded in my cross country coaching.
Small decision #2: I put my information on a message board to find a team to do a relay race with.
Spring 2010. I was interested in participating in the MC200 (which is now Ragnar Relay Chicago), but didn’t want to start my own team. I decided to post my information on a message board so that a team that didn’t have enough people could pick me up as a teammate. I liked the idea of running with 11 strangers over a total of 200 miles and was ready for the experience.
Outcome: David Mentjes invited me to be a part of his team. The next year I joined a 6 person team. Then one of us jokingly mentioned how fun it could be to do a 3 person team the following year. I dismissed it as nuts, but was still slightly curious about it. David kept suggesting it, and eventually I caved. And I’m SO glad I did. That 3 person relay eventually lead me to running my first few 50k’s and my 50 miler that was just a couple weeks ago. It also brought me out to the Western States 100 with David this summer where I paced him on the legendary course during the night hours.
That one decision to put my information on a message board eventually brought me into the world of ultra-running thanks to David. He’s even toeing the line with me next April when I run my first 100 mile race!
Small decision #3: Accepting a job offer from First Business Bank.
So this really wasn’t a small decision, but I clearly didn’t grasp how significant it would be at the time. In the summer of 2012 I was contacted by someone at First Business Bank about a manger position that was open. I waited a few weeks before even deciding to apply. 6 interviews later I was offered the job and was straight up petrified. Mostly I was scared of the public speaking aspect of introducing myself at the all staff meeting, but I was also afraid I wouldn’t be a good enough leader. My confidence was growing from my coaching at Edgewood, but could I hack it in a professional environment?
Outcome: More than 4 years later I am working closely with people in two different states, helping create positive change, and have learned that I absolutely love mentoring and developing people. It lights me up like a Christmas tree!
The people I’ve worked with, the projects that have been entrusted to me, and the creativity I’m encouraged to bring to the work place have completely changed my professional life for the better.
Small decision #4: To listen to a new podcast.
It was December 2014. I had just ended a long term relationship that October, and my beloved dog died that next month in November. Needless to say, December 2014 was a dark place. I was heading out the door for a night time walk with my new dog that I wasn’t sure I even liked very much. (Sorry Nixon.) I knew that I needed to get out of my funk and find some traction in life again, I just didn’t know how to do it.
I had recently discovered podcasts and found one called Doubt the Doubts. One of the episodes was called Master Yourself. It was an interview with a man named Jesse Elder. I walked out of my apartment, put in my ear buds, and was unknowingly about to start my journey of work with the teacher I needed so very much at the time. His guidance on how to get out of your own way and create the life you wanted was exactly what I needed.
Outcome: Just a few days later I signed up for his course The Upgraded Life 3.0 which was a 6 week course that became the foundation for the very intentional, designed life I lead today. I would never have gone to Italy alone last summer if it wasn’t for this decision. I would never have started this website, or jumped out of a plane, or discovered my purpose or what my values really are if it wasn’t for this.
Well, maybe I would have eventually, but I can clearly say that all those aspects of my life now are because of the fact that I stumbled upon that podcast on that dark, cold, lonely December night in 2014.
Small decision #5: To tag along with a friend to someone’s wine and appetizer party.
July 23rd 2016. It was a Saturday night and I didn’t have plans, so I asked a girlfriend if anything fun was going on. She then invited me to tag along with her to a mutual friend’s house for wine and appetizers. I felt a little bit like a party crasher, but I had previously worked with the hostess and came bearing wine and food, so I didn’t feel that bad about it.
Throughout the night we had lots of laughs, plenty of 90’s rap music, and of course relationship talk. Two of the women there mentioned a dating app called Bumble that I had never heard of. I’ve dabbled in on-line dating, but didn’t think much of it. Both of the women spoke to the quality of the people they had met, so I was curious.
Outcome: I decided to give Bumble a shot and a few weeks later I had a first date that had gone so well that I deactivated my Bumble account right after, and so did he. From one impulsive decision to crash a friend’s party, I now am happily in a relationship with a guy who is better than I ever could have imagined.
Can you think of an aspect of your life today that ties back to one tiny decision that you made on a seemingly unremarkable day? I’d love to hear about it. It’s pretty amazing to think of things as small as going for a run, posting on a message board, accepting a job offer, listening to a podcast or meeting up with friends can completely change your course in life for the better!