• Ariana Friedlander

Changing your mind vs. refining your thinking

When I was in the midst of my cancer journey I found I would easily change my mind. One minute I was sure I should use alternative methods to resolve it. The other minute I was sure I needed western medical intervention.


I would berate myself for changing my mind and not staying committed to one thing. A self-judgment I've passed many times before in my life and work.


We don't have many (if any) good examples in our society of what it looks like to live and learn as an adult. When a politician changes their mind, they're attacked for waffling on an issue. When a famous person expresses a different point of view from what they've shared before their sanity is questioned.


And yet learning requires change.

As we gather more information, have new experiences, gain valuable insights, and enhance our point of view our very perspective evolves right along with it. And we must adapt our thinking and adjust our decisions to truly embody learning.


A few months ago, as I was working on making proactive changes in my business, I lamented to my coach. "I thought I had figured it all out and now I'm doing an about-face. I feel like one of my problems has been that I keep changing my mind and haven't stuck with one thing. And now, here I am doing that again."


She listened attentively before offering, "there's a difference between changing your mind and refining your thinking, Ariana. You have new information that you didn't have a few months ago. And it's ok to allow that to influence your plans. You aren't changing your mind because you're staying true to your ultimate goal. You're just refining how you're going to achieve it. And that's ok."


This was exactly what I needed to hear. It helped me reframe how I thought about the process I was going through to drive the change I wanted to create. And it gave me permission to allow for flexibility in my thinking and planning.

One of the reasons I struggled with the perception that I was changing my mind was because my answers to the same question had changed drastically. And that goes against what our education system teaches us - there's one right answer on the test and all the other answers are wrong.

But life, nor leadership nor entrepreneurship are tests. There's much more subtlety and nuance. And we must give ourselves permission to adapt and evolve our ways without adding criticism for "changing one's mind."


Friends have reflected to me that I left no stone unturned in my cancer journey. And it's true. It turns out I wasn't changing my mind during the months I spent figuring out what treatment to do. I was gathering information so I could make a deliberate decision for myself.


The real challenge was that I wanted certainty and clarity before I had gleaned all I needed to know to make an informed decision.


For more complicated situations or goals, we must allow our thinking to be refined through what we learn along the way. And that might be the most difficult part because we have to embrace uncertainty as part of the process, which is inherently uncomfortable.


Are you struggling to make a big decision that's affecting your work? I'd be honored if you told me more about what's going on!

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