A few weeks ago I had an opportunity stumble across my desk. Without going into details, let’s just say it would have been a life changing experience that would have also put me in a place that would have helped me achieve many goals that I have.
I went through the application and interview process. I was praying I would get it. I thought I had it. During this time I found out that some contract work that I do on the side would be ending, so finding something that would replace that income would be perfect timing.
I asked people on Facebook to pray for me. I had close friends giving me encouragement…and then….
I didn’t get it.
I received the word, that I had not been selected. I was crushed. I spent the next seven days in an emotional swirl. Anger, sadness, disbelief, indifference.
While my emotions were churning, I was reminded about an opportunity that a few weeks prior I had said “No” to. I asked the individuals about that opportunity.
I was considering taking it, when I realized that committing to that opportunity would actually take me farther away from my writing goals than ever before.
So, I said “No” again. But this time, just barely.
Professional poker players like to use a term called “Tilt”. It’s actually an old pinball machine term. When pinball players would get worried about their ball being lost down the chute, they would try to tilt the machine to have the ball veer towards one of the flippers. Most pinball machines have a sensor, and if you tilt too much, the machine will stop responding and the turn will be over.
Poker players have started using this term to describe when they feel like they have won a hand, only to get beat at the last second. Their emotions will cause them to “tilt”. This means that they start to play with emotions rather than sound strategy, and lose even more chips because of it.
When I lost the opportunity that I really did want, my emotions started to tilt, and I almost took an opportunity that I knew I wasn’t the right fit for. Luckily, I followed these steps and avoided a mistake:
1. Slow down and think about it
Initially when I heard about the opportunity that wasn’t good for me, I said, “No.” When I revisited it later, I ended the conversation with, “Let me think about it.” Very few times in life does a big decision need to be made immediately. So take your time.
2. Talk to your spouse, significant other, or trusted friend
My wife and I sat down and discussed all of the pros and cons of taking both opportunities. Once we did that, the answer to both was obvious, one was “Go for it!” The other was “I don’t think this is the move we should make.” In both cases, talking to someone allowed me to verbalize concerns and thoughts that kept things moving in the right direction.
3. Imagine yourself in the opportunity
For a day, as I drove around in my car, I actually had conversations out loud that I would have to have with both opportunities. The more I did, the more I realized the answers for each one.
4. Review your written goals
I keep a list of goals. When I went back to review them, that’s when it REALLY became clear which decisions would actually cause me to drift away from what I want to accomplish. This was the nail in the coffin for me.
I encourage you to be methodical about big decisions that pop up. Make sure that your emotions aren’t leading you astray.
Resist the tilt.