Is There an Upside to Impulsive Decisions?


In the last week, I’ve made three impulsive, yet relatively educated decisions.

All the decisions involve taking actions that are good for me.  All of them also involve spending money, one of them a lot of money.

After a year of self-employment and the slow start of building a business, I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  But in each of the three cases, I listened to my intuitive voice and jumped.

Never mind the net.  I don’t need no stinkin’ net.

And neither do you.

Yes, you might crash and burn

There is always a risk of failure.  At the risk of tooting my proverbial horn, I can honestly say I haven’t failed too often in this life and I’m grateful.  I have, however, experienced plenty of heartache when something didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

So you see, it’s really a question of how you define failure.  Some people take a shot, miss, and watch their self-worth take a nose dive.  Others take the shot, miss, crash and figure out a way to try again.  Or try something different.

That’s why those of us who fall into the latter category don’t need the stinkin’ net.  In order to live our dreams, we have to at least try to fail.

How can you know something won’t work unless you check it out?  And there, my friends, is the upside to making impulsive decisions.

You might get to fail.  If you do, at least you didn’t spend a lot of time with the whole back-and-forth, should-I or shouldn’t-I b.s.

On the other hand, you might not fail.  You might be a roarin’ success.  Because you didn’t spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself, you have more time to put into your successful decision.

What do you really have to lose?

Years ago, when I was pretty new in recovery, I’d go to my sponsor with a decision that needed to be made.  Invariably she would listen patiently to my verbal pro and con list. After I said, “but on the other hand” 16 times, she would ask me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

Exasperated, I would do give her the new-to-recovery dramatic response, “Well, I could DIE!”

Trust me, with the exception of one time (and that’s a different post for a much more serious time), there were no life and death situations.

I just realized–seriously, just this second–that I’ve packed around a different version of that dramatic response for some time now.  I traded the “I could DIE” response for “I could run out of money.”

Oh wow.  It’s true.  Running out of money has been my biggest fear.  Hang on for a second because I need to process this a bit.

Want to know what my honest-to-God, from-the-gut response is to that fear in this very moment?

So what?

Tess Marshall

Is losing a bunch of money really the worst thing that can happen to me?  Hardly.

My friend Tess Marshall, author of The Bold Life and courage coach, says, “Fear is crazy-making; it taunts and depletes you. It keeps you imprisoned, depressed and lifeless. Fear steals your joy.”

Suddenly I’m having a vision of me crashing and burning as a result of one of the decisions I impulsively made this week.  There’s a bunch of fire and smoke, but there’s also me walking through it, a little sooty, maybe, but ready to fly again.  Without the damn net.

Whether the decisions work is really not the issue.  The issue is whether you’re willing to BOOM, make the decision, and then simply let go and enjoy the ride.

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist

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  1. You go lady!!! I’m seeing you now, “There’s a bunch of fire and smoke, but there’s also me walking through it, a little sooty, maybe, but ready to fly again. Without the damn net.” Great post, Beth – fear is such a life-stopper and my gosh it ruled my life for so, so long! I think that’s why I took up rock climbing (was deathly afraid of heights) and scuba diving (was claustrophobic). It’s been a march through fear ever since I realized that was what had kept me from living (in my case a fear of “what if…” that surrounds living/loving people who abuses or is dependent to alcohol).

  2. Beth says:

    Love that, Lisa–a march through fear. I detest the “what-if’s” and by golly, I’m just done with them! At least for today! I have to admit that writing that post made me feel pretty spunky. But you might just have me beat–I confine my underwater activities to snorkeling!

  3. Hey Beth!
    Super article – point-of-view. Fear: the gift that keeps on giving. That is until we’re willing to move forward no matter the quantity and quality of the “What if’s?” Within the context of evolution – survival – fear makes a damned good bit of sense. ‘Course, in the absence of a saber tooth tiger – well – fear becomes rather cumbersome. Good for you, Beth – spend that dough. Somehow I think it was the right decision. Thanks, as always…

    • Beth says:

      Hey back, Bill! Yeah, what’s the point of saving the bucks if you’re not really living? Here’s to continually shakin’ off the fear. Appreciate you stopping by!

  4. So inspiring to read this post! I’m glad you jumped into making some decisions that might have some risk, but without that, how can anyone move ahead! Fear does hold us back, and I know I have to push myself through the fear to get out of my comfort zone once in awhile, so that I can spread my wings a little further. Best of luck with your new ventures!!

    • Beth says:


      I picture a tight, dark tunnel that we push and grunt through, wings glued to our sides, before a big POP! and we’re out! The wings unfold and we take flight . . . that image just feels good. Thanks for bringing it to mind.

  5. Herby Bell says:

    Involuntary and joyful nodding up the yin yang over here. You MADE my day, that’s an affirmative.

    I sat with a dear friend’s, 90 year old Dad, (also a dear friend) the other day. He said, “Herby, you really had it all as a younger man. You sort of pissed your life away, didn’t you?” I said without even thinking, “Andy, that WASN’T my life. THIS is my life. THIS is why I came.”

    Facing Everything And Recovering is my life. And now you’re making me cry, Beth…or you know what I mean. Let’s Roll. You’re the best.

    • Beth says:

      Takes one to know one, Herby! Hell yeah, I’ll roll with ya! Love it when those auto reactions come. We know the truth of who we are in the here and now. The past is just the past.

  6. Jody Lamb says:

    Hey, Beth! Gosh, you’re even more inspiring than I realized.

    I giggled about how you gave your sponsor so many what-if scenarios that could happen. I do the same thing on a regular basis. Congrats on quieting those stupid what ifs to make your dream happen! Isn’t it funny how when it comes right down to it most of what we fear isn’t really all that terrible? “In order to live our dreams, we have to at least try to fail.” – Yep. When I was 26, in the midst of depression and a complete life crisis as I coped with my alcoholic loved ones, I finally realized that if I didn’t write and TRY to live the life I envisioned as a kid, I’d either lose my mind, die or worse, continuing feeling the way I did.

    Thanks for your honesty and your bravery. Go, Beth! High five.

    • Beth says:

      Hey Jody! Thanks for the high five and back at ya! Sure takes me back to my athletic days, sadly long gone, another victim of my active addiction, I suppose. Ah, well . . .

      I sure appreciate your words and how I relate to your last sentence, “I finally realized that if I didn’t write and TRY to live the life I envisioned as a kid, I’d either lose my mind, die or worse, continuing feeling the way I did.” Only another creative type truly understands the inner turmoil that lives within a writer. Thankfully, you and I have each found an outlet for expression. You, my friend, write from the heart and the gut and I’m so glad we’re hangin’ out in the same circles.

      Much love to you!

  7. Thanks Beth, for another great article. Kind of what I needed to hear today. ‘In order to live our dreams, we have to at least try to fail’ – is my favorite line! You have encouraged me to ‘jump’ sans the net – thank you so much!

    • Beth says:

      Hey Leslie,

      Here’s a little secret: If you really, really need the net, I’ll be there! Thank YOU for your courage and your willingness to jump!

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