I'm not sure how long it will take me in this lifetime to learn to trust my instincts, but let's just say I'm still working on it. Hindsight being 20/20 I can see where my instincts or first impressions were usually spot on in the past, so I have concrete evidence of my ability to make a good decision. But why do I fight those first impressions so hard?
After 41 years on this earth I've learned a thing or two about myself. One thing I've learned that never, ever changes is that I have to make every project I undertake about 10,000 times harder than it has to be. I am a glutton for punishment. I must...MUST...spend inordinate amounts of time obsessing over minute details and internally debating my choices. If I had to choose between two paths, one that said, "take this path if you trust your instincts and you'll finish faster" or the other that said, "take this path if you want to second-guess your decisions, change your mind 956 times, berate yourself and develop stomach ulcers," I will always, without fail, choose the second path.
We had some rooms in our house painted this week and choosing colors was hard. Damn hard. Every time I thought I narrowed it down, I noticed a color I hadn't seen before and started obsessing over that color. For those of you who trust your instincts choosing paint colors would be no big deal because you would say, "It's only paint. If you don't like it paint it again." But we were paying someone else to paint so I pretty much had to nail down my choices or risk paying double for making a color mistake. For a Type A, anal-retentive obssesor like me, choosing colors was more monumental than building the whole damn house. I wanted my choices to be right, perfect and flawless.
I had color swatches from Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Valspar and a host of others. I plotted color combinations on my computer using Photoshop and compared magazine layouts to my rooms to determine whether or not I should use one or two colors, an accent color or some other faux-finishing technique. I spent weeks (not days) going over every possible color combination. I narrowed down my choices and felt confident until I asked for other people's opinions. Big mistake.
Not that the opinions received were bad ones, it's just that other people have other ideas. Not good or bad, just different. I knew what I wanted my rooms to look like and I had an idea of colors in my head, but each time I saw another magazine article or listened someone else's advice, I started second-guessing my choices - which pushed the project back because I was tortured with indecision.
When I finally decided that enough was enough I chose the colors I was originally drawn to when I started this project. If I had just trusted my instincts in the first place I could have saved some serious time and stomach pain. I can't get those hours or minutes back, but I can mark this is a lesson learned.
My rooms turned out beautifully. I couldn't be happier. I made good decisions. Maybe next time I can spare myself the stomach ulcers and shave a few weeks off of my project time if I remind myself that I don't need to obsess. I don't need to chase perfection. I just need to trust my instincts.
A girl can hope.