Just choose it: Believe in assertive decision-making

Published 7:26 pm Friday, March 15, 2019


Life with a Smile

From what I have heard, some people walk into Lowe’s and have a near-religious experience, breathing deeply not only the smell of lumber but the smell of possibility. They see inspiration piled high to the ceiling on gleaming shelves. When I pass through the doors of a home improvement store I tend to experience a near panic attack, utterly overwhelmed by the sea of products whose uses are a total mystery to me. I do not see inspiration. I see disaster waiting to happen.

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And yet, I found myself at Lowe’s last weekend, “Making Choices.” I am deliberately imbuing those words with significance, because I am embarking on an upgrade to my master bathroom and such projects are filled with many choices. Endless choices; too many choices, if you ask me.

Many people dream of one day building their own home, lovingly designing it from the ground up. For my part, I cannot imagine a better illustration of hell on earth than having to make that many choices. The bathroom project is bad enough. Vanity style, vanity color, countertop, number of drawers, type of light fixture, desired finish on the shower head, tile for the floor, tile for shower, door for the shower (or maybe just a curtain rod?). It makes me twitch. I just don’t have strong opinions about the tiny nuances of home décor.

Or so I thought.

However, when confronted with dozens of possible bathroom accoutrements, it turned out that I did have opinions. Brushed nickel is clearly superior to shiny silver, brass or faux wrought iron. Rounded edges are more appealing than sharp corners. Less is more when it comes to embellishment on bathroom lighting. I was in and out of the store in 20 minutes, having selected a medicine cabinet, light fixture, and faucet combo.

I am a decisive person. I choose a course of action and then I undertake that action. Dithering makes me crazy and long delays between making plans and executing those plans do bad things to my blood pressure. If we dine out together, you are entitled to have warm feelings about multiple entrees, but when the waiter shows up, you best be ready to pick one.

The corollary to my law of decisiveness is that good enough is almost always good enough. I don’t need to see 500 options to feel like I’ve made an informed decision — or to be happy with that decision. My ex-husband and I interviewed a single DJ for our wedding. He seemed fine, so we hired him. Likewise on wedding photographers and cake tasting. We also test drove exactly one vehicle when we decided to purchase a new family car.

When I visited the flooring store to select tile for the bathroom, I declined to browse through the endless custom-order options. We headed straight to the storeroom to see what was in stock (and thus cheaper). It’s not that I’m a major cheapskate, nor working on a shoestring budget for the project. It’s just that I know that the expensive products won’t be bring me twice as much joy as the less expensive products. And sure enough, after quickly perusing the stacks of tile, I identified one that looked fine and ordered it.

I’m sure it will look nice in the bathroom and to be perfectly honest, my bathroom floor tile isn’t something that is going to make or break my happiness. So why spend hours agonizing over the decision?

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that my swift decision-making is not universally successful. My wedding photographer was actually fairly awful and the marriage itself didn’t last. The fact that the total elapsed time from first date to marriage proposal was six weeks may have had something to do with it. But like I said, when I make a decision, I go for it.

I truly believe that assertive decision-making coupled with modest expectations is the key to success when you lead a busy life. Pick a movie. Order the chicken nuggets. Grab a pair of shin guards that match the cleats. Select a hair scrunchy in an appropriate hue. None of these are life-or-death choices and the outcome is likely to be just fine regardless of the choice.

My new bathroom is going to look great. Even more importantly, I’ll once again have a place to wash my hair in the morning and brush my teeth before bed. And that’s what really matters.