How to Live With Bad Decisions: Lessons From My Front Door

Have you ever had one of those days when you got sucked into contemplating your life and questioning your decision making abilities. This was me just a few days ago returning from a trip to New York. But I never thought the process would be trigger by something as silly as point colour.

Have you ever had one of those days when you got sucked into contemplating your life and questioning your decision making abilities. This was me just a few days ago returning from a trip to New York. But I never thought the process would be trigger by something as silly as point colour.

Before going, I decided to have my hallway redecorated. First learning point. Everything is relative. Until the hallway got dressed in brilliant white, my apartment looked pretty decent. But once the hallway got refreshed, walking inside any of the other rooms made it clear just how neglected the rest really was. So now I have enough work for the next few months.

Part of the job of renovating the hallway was having my front door repainted. I looked forward to the new colour and went to the shop to choose it myself. I scanned the various shades of yellows, oranges and reds and the various blues and greens typical of English front doors. I dismissed black as way too royal, practical and frankly without character and settled on something I felt was appropriate to my work, life and disposition: potters clay. In the sun light the sample paper against the door looked really promising. Slightly subdued though interesting. The colour changing with varying degree of sunlight falling on it. I was sold. I bought the paint with full determination of a sound decision. That was last week.

I arrived in the morning of yesterday tired. The overnight BA plane that should have seen a revamp at least three years back allowed no sleep. To make matters worse, all economy seats were taken leaving no chance for an isle sleep. We touched down in the early morning, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and I managed to book a taxi pick up in advance. Drive home took longer than usual but nothing could prepare me for the underwhelm I experienced upon greeting my newly painted front door potters clay.

Most people expect to feel a tinge of excitement when they see their front door. Perhaps even happiness. This did not happen. Instead, I felt a distinct and marked disappointment. It was clear. The colour looked good on a small paper swatch but on my door is was a totally different story against the grey English sky. My heart sank low. I went to bed exhausted.

Four hours later, and slightly more rested, house keys in hand and headed back outside. Not to shop for groceries but to stand on the pavement and observe the front door afresh again. I was desperately hoping the colour was better than on first inspection. But no such luck. It looked as drab with fresh eyes as it did with tired ones.

Few hours later a friend visited me and on arrival asked

"Is this the undercoat?"

Clearly it was not just me. Perhaps I should have asked her along when I went to pick the paint.

"No" - I reply.

"This is it! Looked much better on a swatch than here, must admit... Oh well, it's done now so best get used to it."

We walked inside and had some tea. In the afternoon, a bit of sun come out and we decided to head down to the river for a walk. As we left, I turned around to view the door again. From up close it looked better I thought. Glancing back at it from the pavement I tried to see it anew. By now I have done this about six times, and each time I am determined to make the door look better than last. This morning leaving for lunch I remarked to my friend "Look, it's rather nice in the sunlight."

To some it may just be a door but that morning on arrival the door become the last job, the last relationship, a series of other business decisions that like the front door colour seemed full of promise but didn't turn out that way. The thought haunted me like a ghost and with the departure of my company Sunday evening, returned once more.

By the time I caught myself I was on a treadmill gallery looking at one bad decision after another, with my mind questioning others wondering whether I was just a person who always flips disappointment into positive learning. After all, there's little value in regret isn't there. But to cut the story short, many decisions seemed to require a certain sunlight to come to life and appear reasonable. And it all got too much. So much so that I decided to call a dear friend and pour my heart out about it all.

In my job, many people expect that my life is perfect. But as the potters clay clearly showed, this is not the case. There is clearly a good deal to come to terms with and heal as with anyone. There's anger, grief, regret and disappointments. There is sadness. Of course I'm well equipped in dealign with them. In viewing things in perspective and so on. And yet I am human. So within minutes of our quick catch up after two weeks of not speaking with one another, my potters clay all comes out pouring.

My friend is a good listener. Patient and loving he listens for about twenty minutes and then bursts out laughing.

"Darling. Welcome to your forties." - he says wiping tears of laughter from his eyes deeply entertained by my door debacle. we say good bye and I ride the bus home thinking life is just a

bunch of front doors. Some cheer us up. Others drag us down. Some we don't even notice or remember at all.

The trick is to find something worthwhile behind the door.

So, when you face a bit of a spiral into dark blues triggered by some rather inconsequential item like paint colour - stop! Pick up the phone. Talk to your neighbour. Kiss someone. Or simply celebrate the fact you made a decision in the first place. Most decisions can be reversed.

I'm going to watch this door closely over the next two week I decided. Should I remain unconvinced, I'm heading back to the shop and getting at least three more colour samples and may just need to spend the weekend repainting the door again.

Good decisions sometimes are those we make through trial and error.


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