Regular readers of this blog know that my husband Will and I traveled to Scotland in December 2018 for an amazing literary adventure.
We debated for a long time before committing to the trip—but we finally decided to go, and I’m so glad we did. Our time there was magical, though I do have a handful of regrets. Some were beyond our control, but one was completely preventable.
On the road between Wigtown and Edinburgh, we stopped for breakfast at a small farm market our friends had scouted. We reveled in the thoroughly Scottish offerings, enjoying scones with clotted cream and surprisingly good coffee. I was delighted to see they had a Bakewell tart available, because it was a dessert I’d only encountered on The Great British Baking Show, and my family loves The Great British Baking Show.
I considered getting a slice, because I was curious to try it for myself. But, since I don’t eat a lot of sugar, I decided it was silly to buy a slice. There was no way I was going to eat more than a few bites, and I didn’t want to waste my money on something so sugary—even if it was only $3.
I regretted the decision later, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I don’t eat much sugar. I’d said no to something sugary. This made perfect sense. So why was it bothering me?
When we got back home to the U.S., we told our kids all about our trip, and I excitedly shared that I’d seen a Bakewell tart for sale. I’m sure you can guess their first question: How did it taste?
Well. I had to tell them that I saw it but didn’t try it. Talk about anticlimactic!
They were disappointed by my response, and you know what? So was I.
This seems like such a small thing. We’re talking about a piece of cake, a midday dessert. How big a deal could it be? It wasn’t until months later, when I was editing my book Don’t Overthink It, that I realized why it bothered me so. I could finally see where I’d gone wrong.
One of the most life-changing things I learned in the course of writing this book was the concept of values-based decision making. This was something I’d done in a piecemeal way prior to writing the book, but it’s something I’ve now come to embrace wholeheartedly. The idea is this: when you decide, in advance, what matters to you, everyday decision-making becomes infinitely easier, because what you do flows naturally out of who you are.
Naming our values can drive decisions both big and small, short-term and long-term. Nowadays when I’m making a decision, I ask myself, Do I hold a value that can inform this decision? When the answer is yes—and it often is—the decision becomes a whole lot easier.
That takes us back to the Bakewell tart. When I was back in the U.S., editing chapter 4 of Don’t Overthink It (“Decide What Matters”), I realized why this tiny little decision still niggled at me: my decision to forego the tart didn’t align with my values.
You see, that decision was about more than a piece of cake. And—immediate appearances aside—it wasn’t about healthy eating, either. Not right then, not for this trip. The values that took me to Scotland were entirely different: travel and adventure and trying new things. We went with a spirit of exploration, and sought out experiences—including tasty ones—that we’d remember forever.
Even if I’d taken one bite of that Bakewell tart, I would have felt good about that decision—even if I’d hated it! It would have been $3 for this Kentuckian to try something she’d only previously encountered on The Great British Baking Show.
I’m not thrilled with having Scotland regrets, but I’m grateful for what this experience taught me: that when I pause to identify what really matters in the decisions I face, I make better decisions. This is true for significant decisions, like choosing to take a big trip, and seemingly small ones, like choosing dessert.
Readers, it’s no exaggeration to say that the things I learned writing Don’t Overthink It changed my life, and the tips, strategies, mindset shifts, and rules to live by I share in this book have lightened my mental load and brought more peace and joy into my life.
I hope the book does you a world of good as well. It’s available TOMORROW, wherever new books are sold. There’s still time to get the preorder bonuses if you order your copy right now. Get your copy here:
- Carmichael’s Bookstore will send you a signed copy. (I’ll even personalize it if you’d like; just leave a note in the comments section.)
- Your local indie
- Barnes and Noble
- Book Depository
- Google Play
- Christian Audio – audiobook version
- Libro.fm – audiobook version
- Audible – audiobook version
After you order, make sure you claim your bonuses at overthinkbook.com. Thanks!
I hope you love the book—it will be here tomorrow! For today, I’d love to hear your rules to live by, and how they make your own decisions easier. Would you tell us in comments?