Age and wisdom don't always equal good decision-making. I made good decisions in high school and college, but my decision-making skills took a hit when I began making my way in the world. Who does that? Really. Who makes better decisions at 15 than at 21? Well, me, for starters.
Maybe a more relevant question, a more useful question, is why? Why did I lose the ability to choose wisely?
I make bad decisions when I feel insecure. Certainly being on my own for the first time had some shaky moments. But, life didn't suddenly throw me curves at 21 that I hadn't had to deal with already. In fact, many of the insecurities I faced in my younger years were more intense than those I faced post-college. So, why did insecurity breed poor decisions later in life?
The primary change in my post-college life was in the advisors I chose -- my friends. In high school and college, I surrounded myself with people who shared my values and beliefs. I didn't find those people when I took my first job. I had precious friends who were loyal and fun, but we didn't share the same belief system. Imperceptibly, my values began to change. When insecurity hit, I made decisions based on this new set of values and beliefs -- my friends' values and beliefs.
The decisions I made may have been fine for my friends, but they were bad decisions for me. They didn't reflect who I really was, or what I really believed. Because I was spending the majority of my time immersed in their value system, that's who I became -- and my decisions reflected that new reality. I cannot stress enough, these friends were good people. They desired the best for me and I desired the best for them. We just held different beliefs. Although I adopted the values of the culture in which I chose to live, those values didn't resonate with me.
The bad decisions I made during this time were the result of an identity crisis: the life I was living wasn't the life I believed in. If you're certain about your beliefs -- certain those beliefs are ones you highly value -- it's essential to surround yourself with people who hold similar beliefs. Seek out friends who have weathered difficulties and will encourage you to pursue your beliefs when trials come.
Your friends are your advisors. When insecurities hit, you will follow their counsel, though you may not recognize it for years to come.
What influences your decisions?