This might not be a tactic they teach in English class, but I’m going to go ahead and give away the end at the beginning. It might not be advisable, but I just want you to know right now, in case this is for you, what I’m trying to say. In the event that you don’t have time to read this entire piece, or if you get nothing else from it, you will immediately understand my most important message.

Here’s the deal: You are always allowed to change your mind.

You can change it today, or tomorrow, or five years from now. You can change your mind after you graduate, or after you’ve already accepted a job. Even if you can’t fathom one more decision because you already feel like you are the “flaky” one and people roll their eyes when you proclaim yet another path you are going to embark upon. Even if you think you’re too old. Even if you think you should know better. Do it specifically because you’re too old. Do it because you actually do know better. And knowing better is exactly what’s leading you to consider a change. You can change your mind as much and as often as you wish. Do not let anyone compromise or remove your agency. Your choice is your choice. Period. End of story. You do not have to explain it to anyone.

You are always, always allowed to change your mind.

Okay, now let’s get down to brass tacks. I have an amazing client right now who is embarking on a major life change. She is currently in one of those professions where people have spent a LOT of time and money to get their degrees. Changing her mind is no small decision. We are talking resources, time, money, and careful consideration.

But here’s the other side: it’s not actually even a choice. It’s something she has to do. She knows there is no price you can put on her sanity (and trust me, the price she has already put on it is pretty high), but what we’re talking about was a forgone decision. Because she cannot continue as she is.  And, really, isn’t that all you need to know? You know something has to change. The rest is just logistics. In my client’s case, two weeks after she came to that very decision, an amazing job opportunity landed in her lap.

Changing your mind does not mean that you knew less back then. Did you used to play with Barbies? Or decorate your room with pictures of horses? Maybe you took ballet three times a week? Or spent every Saturday on the soccer field? Do you still do those things? If not, do you feel like you made the wrong choice back then? Or that you somehow didn’t know yourself? Or, do you look back at the person you were and the things you liked, and recognize that, while they may feel very far from who you are now, it’s okay that you’ve grown and are different now? Past you was just making the decisions you knew how to make at the time. Now, if you want to, you can make other decisions. And that’s all there is to it.

Changing your mind does not mean you missed something obvious along the way, and can no longer be trusted to make sound decisions. It just means you have evolved and grown as a person (and thank goodness for that). You might be a very similar version of yourself, but maybe 20% of you is different. And that 20% is making it hard to continue on with the way things are. You can still choose to ignore the 20%. Because no matter what, you will always have free will. But it’s worth thinking about how you might not be a totally and completely different person. Maybe that 20% has just shifted, and you have the option of adapting.

If you’ve been reading about self-improvement, you may have heard about the concept of love-based decisions versus fear-based decisions. The idea may sound very abstract, but it’s actually pretty easy and you can do it right now.

Take a minute and conjure the wisest, most successful version of yourself. This is the version of yourself who has already figured out what you want to know. Take a breath and allow her to take up residence in your brain and body for at least a minute. Now call to mind what’s weighing on you. And then imagine what she would do. Can you act as if you were her?

That’s it. If you already knew that everything would work out for the best, what would you do? Or what’s the next thing you would do? Even if it’s something as seemingly insignificant as ordering lunch (because the way we do one thing is the way we do everything), do it like she would. It might feel like it’s not enough, but remember after every decision, there is another. Because it is ever really just the one decision? Or is it the one after that too? And if it really is just one decision, and it’s completely impossible to change your mind, what would the highest version of yourself do? The woman who can do anything, or make anything work, what would she do? Because maybe that’s really all you need to know.

Originally published here: