Life Advice Tester: Make Decisions In 60 Seconds Tara Schuster

The signs are all there: my friends are starting to get married, I eat kale and my five year college reunion is coming up. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am sort-of-kind-of actually an adult. Sort of.

While this prospect terrifies me (you mean I’ll have to pay for those student loans?), I’ve decided that if I’m going to have to be an adult, then I want to be this baller, Diane Keaton-like adult. The kind of adult who knows how to “cook” and always looks put together, and who other people spot and whisper, “Wow! She is living right.”

BUT HOW? How, I ask you? How can I learn to cook when my kitchen is technically a part of my bedroom? How can I look put-together when I still haven’t mastered the bump-less ponytail? And as far as convincing other people that I am doing something right… well, my 14-year-old cousin once said I’m “okay cool”. So, I’ve got that going for me.

In an effort to figure out how to be an adult, I’m embarking on an experiment to test out the life advice of those who seem to have all of the answers. Those select few that make living look like an effortless art. I’ll comb Beyoncé lyrics for council; I’ll try on advice from Nora Ephron; I’ll listen to direct orders from my doctor. I’ll try out different life hacks and advice and report back to you, dear reader. And just like Louis Pasteur before us, we’ll figure out what advice works and what advice should be recalled. Together we can cobble together some way of being a human. And P.S. don’t you think being a human is really friggin’ weird?

The Advice: Make Your Decisions in 60 Seconds or Less

Adviser: My Therapist

From the tiny little “What will you be having, Miss?” to the bigger “What city should I live in?”, I am paralyzed by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). When presented with a dinner menu, I ask the waitress not only for her favorite item but also for the historic favorite dish of the restaurant. If I don’t order the right thing it feels like that would say something larger about my character. “Here lies Tara who ordered the one sub-par item on the menu while everyone else enjoyed their fabulous meal and their fabulous lives and smiled and had a great time,” my tombstone might read.

In an attempt to help me overcome this chronic indecisiveness, my therapist suggested I try making snap decisions. For two weeks, when confronted with life’s small options, I would have only sixty seconds to chart my course. No waffling allowed. I would have to exercise my decision-making and stick to my choices.

Test 1: Dinner at a Restaurant

I began my experiment at dinner with my friend George and his boyfriend (you would love George, BTW). Usually, settling on a restaurant could take me an entire day of cross-comparing Yelp reviews with Zagat — but with only sixty seconds on the clock, I leapt at the first restaurant that came to mind. I felt an immediate pang of relief that I was no longer burdened with choosing a place. I could move on with my life. At the restaurant came the real test. How would I handle a menu that was deli-like in its offerings? As we all know, a deli-like menu is the worst kind of menu. Crammed full of totally disparate dishes from around the world, a deli menu taunts you both with its sheer number of choices and with its ever-present bagels with lox. How can one resist? With one minute on the clock, I skimmed over the catalog and chose the sesame crusted salmon. Let’s be real, I don’t LOVE salmon but it seemed healthy and solid. Done. Decision made. I then watched as George and his date sunk into the all-too familiar vortex of food ordering. Would they get the meat loaf, or the fish tacos, or what about the curry wrap? And what was in a curry wrap, precisely? Was there mayo? I wondered what this entire exchange meant about them. Were they being thoughtful or over-thinking it?

Free from the decision-making process, I sat back and watched my own familiar routine of flip-flopping between dishes. I was truly amazed at how much free time I had on my hands. If I could stick to this, I could reclaim minutes, if not years of my life. In the end, my salmon was so-so; but the small pride I felt in having made a decision in record time was delicious.

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  1. Do things you dread doing by doing them quickly. Because you know after you do them, you’ll be glad you did. It’s the adult thing to do. Don’t procrastinate, don’t pretend like someone else is going to come and do it for you. Just like ripping off a wax strip, just do it. Just clean the dishes after every meal, Wash your clothes before you have no clean socks,. exercise in the morning before work, try cooking at least once everyday.

    I went to an early Sunday Morning Cycling class. Cycling in general is brutal but at 8am on a Sunday, that’s torture. Oh and it was a 90 minute class. When we first get there, the Instructor yells out “the hardest part you already accomplished! YOU’RE HERE!”

    So just put yourself through the hardest part, which is the trying. Once you get out the pan to make an omelet, and you cut the vegetables, it won’t be that hard to whip up the eggs and add cheese.

    • You’re so right Priscila.
      That first band-aid ripping moment is really the hardest (besides going for a 90 minute cycling class!). There is a Woody Allen quote I love that really speaks to that: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” But it’s sometimes hard to work up to even that 80%! We all know it’s easier to leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Maybe cleaning a mug at a time, getting a little bit better at the laundry, maybe by taking baby steps we can learn how to show up fully. Thanks for sharing your insights!