Making Small, Imperfect Decisions

Small, Imperfect Choices

Life often presents us with significant choices that can leave us overwhelmed and uncertain about which path to take. Here’s the secret: the key is to focus on the smaller decisions that are within your control. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight or in one giant leap. It happens through a series of small steps—the choices you make and the actions you take. Each action has the opportunity to get you closer to what you really want.

Small Choices Amidst Bigger Decisions

Lately, I’ve had several friends reaching out for relationship advice, seeking guidance in both their professional and romantic lives. Each of them had unmet expectations and dissatisfaction with their current relationships. Instead of focusing solely on what was wrong, I suggested they consider the power of smaller choices within their larger decisions. In these scenarios, here’s what small imperfect choices looked like:

Gina’s Story

Gina deeply loved her partner, but noticed some irreconcilable differences. While leaving wasn’t an option yet, she often questioned whether staying was in her best interest. I proposed an alternative perspective: “What if you choose to stay in the imperfection of the relationship for now? Can you accept that it’s not everything you want, but part of it is? It’s okay to find joy in what you have without getting caught up in the long-term.”

Callie’s Journey

Callie, on the other hand, frequently complained about unmet expectations in her marriage, causing strain in the relationship. She wondered if divorcing during her daughter’s challenging teenage years would be too burdensome. I gently asked, “Do you need to make the big choice of divorce right now? Divorce is never perfect, and there’s no perfect time for it. Instead of fixating on what you lack, how about temporarily pausing your relationship goals to support your daughter through high school?”

Both Gina and Callie found relief in these alternative choices. They hadn’t considered staying in the imperfection of their relationships as a valid option before.

Jane’s Dilemma

Jane, in a state of uncertainty, questioned if her boyfriend was the right long-term partner for her after two years together. Was he enough? Were they truly compatible? Or was she settling out of fear of being alone? I encouraged her to make a smaller choice instead: “Are you ready to make the big choice to leave him altogether?” Her answer was a decisive “no,” so, I suggested she focus on what she loves about their relationship for a short period and observe how it feels. This approach felt more manageable and less overwhelming to Jane.

Suzy’s Challenge

Lastly, Suzy expressed her frustration with the physicians in her medical practice. The professional dynamics, politics and corporate structure no longer aligned with her values. She felt unsupported when she lost her father and a close friend, and her partners failed to understand her need to grieve. Suzy contemplated leaving the practice, but she wasn’t ready to make that big choice just yet. I asked, “What smaller choice feels right for you now?” With conviction, she replied, “Being fully present with my patients is of utmost importance to me. So, my smaller choice is to work on my own healing so I can better serve them.”

The Power of Small, Imperfect Choices

In an ideal world, every choice would feel glorious. But sometimes, to build momentum, we must make an interim choice that feels good enough. Scaling back the scope of a decision can ease anxiety while still propelling us forward. Even small adjustments, in the face of a larger problem, can have a meaningful impact. When big choices seem overwhelming or out of reach, honing in on a smaller choice brings us back into a position of greater control and allows us to create momentum.

Remember, every choice matters, no matter how small. Embrace the power of small, imperfect choices, and witness how they pave the way for transformative shifts in your life.


P.S. In Part 5 of The Book of Choice, I devote a section to making small imperfect choices, as our choices are seldom black or white, good or bad. Choices have layers of complexity embedded within them, so there is rarely a perfect choice, only the perfect choice for you at this moment. If you’re seeking further guidance and insight, make sure to check it out!

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