Most of us have a problem: we constantly think we need to explain ourselves and justify our decisions. Deborah Tan says to h___ with that, and reveals the 5 decisions we really don’t have to justify.
I’m a big fan of sports movies and one of my favorites is Moneyball. In the movie, one of the conversations Brad Pitt’s character Billy has with Jonah Hill’s Peter goes like this:
Peter: Billy, Pena is an All Star. Okay? And if you dump him and this Hatteberg thing doesn’t work out the way that we want it to, you know, this is…this is the kind of decision that gets you fired. It is!
Billy: Yes, you’re right. I may lose my job, in which case I’m a forty-four year-old guy with a high school diploma and a daughter I’d like to be able to send to college. You’re twenty-five years old with a degree from Yale and a pretty impressive apprenticeship. I don’t think we’re asking the right question. I think the question we should be asking is, do you believe in this thing or not?
Peter: I do.
Billy: It’s a problem you think we need to explain ourselves. Don’t. To anyone.
The last sentence, uttered by Billy, is what I’m talking about. It’s a problem that we constantly think we need to explain ourselves. We – especially women – have been brought up to believe that we need to be accountable, reliable and honest. And by all that, it basically boils down to being “open”.
If we can’t work late, we feel we need to explain why: “Sorry, my daughter has an exam tomorrow.”
If we don’t work well with someone in the company, we are compelled to come up with a good reason because we need to appear professional: “I have my concerns about so-and-so’s idea and because of this, I don’t think I’m the best candidate to team up with her for this project.”
NONSENSE! The “explanations” people expect from us are NOT explanations. What they want from us is a “nice way of letting them down”. People expect us to play nice and, often this involves us “explaining” why we want to take a certain course of action. Can you imagine the stink you will create if you left – without “explaining” – the office at 6pm sharp while everyone’s still stuck at their desks?
I say to hell with this psychotic need to win the approval of the people around us. In order to master your destiny and pursue what you truly believe in, QUIT trying to explain EVERY DECISION. Informing people you are intending to do something is very different from having to launch into a 5-minute presentation about WHY you’re doing it.
1. To be in a relationship or to bask in your awesome single life
It doesn’t matter if you are seeing the world’s most eligible bachelor or you are a staunch non-believer of blind dates; people will always have something to say about your relationship status. If you are happy being single, GOOD FOR YOU! Don’t be pressured to explain your “tastes” to friends who go, “Why won’t you consider someone like Andrew??!?” And if you decide to break up with your boyfriend, don’t ever entertain “demands” for an explanation. Unless the person is offering to ply you with beer all night long …
2. To quit your job
While the textbooks on good managerial skills may demand that your boss asks why, don’t feel you need to come up with a “sane” reason. We can all leave a perfectly cushy job to do NOTHING. Don’t bother writing stuff like, “I’m resigning because I intend to pursue a master’s degree full-time” or “I’m resigning because I would like to take some time off to travel”. It is PERFECTLY acceptable to just write, “I’m resigning and I’ll be serving my notice in full. My last day with the company will be 1 April, 2014.”
3. To eat, to NOT eat, to diet, to NOT diet
I am with this love-your-body-don’t-judge-my-curves thing but if I ever feel like I want to drop 10kg, I really don’t think I should have to explain why. It’s none of anybody’s business if I love/hate/adore/detest/worship/demonize my body. It’s NONE of your business if I suddenly decide I would like to cut out red meat from my diet and live on a diet of carrots and cream cheese for the rest of my life. I refuse to be judged based on what I put (or not put) inside my mouth.
4. To put work before life, or vice versa, and then change it around later
Let’s be honest here: there is no work-life balance. Most of us lean one way more than the other most of the time. But you know what? This “balance” is not set in stone and it changes. When a deadline is near, we are all workaholics because we understand that a commitment has been made to a client to deliver the goods. When things are less manic, Happy Hour can start as early as 2pm. The only way to rescue your sanity is to stop trying to find a reason for behaving the way you do.
5. To cut a friend off
You are not being a cold-hearted bitch by cutting someone out of your life. With the finite amount of time we are given, there is simply no room for selfish, self-centered, self-important people in our lives. If someone asks, “Why haven’t you been in touch with so-and-so?”, it’s okay to just shrug your shoulders and answer, “Just don’t feel like it anymore.”
What other decisions should we never have to justify?
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She gets mildly irritated whenever people ask her, “Why Penang?”. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.
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