Sometimes the Impulsive Choice Is the Right Choice
Photo courtesy of leogg!.

Sometimes the Impulsive Choice Is the Right Choice

Written by Emilie

Topics: Adventure

I have a new project in my life: I’m developing a TV series and writing a script for the pilot episode.

It’s fun. SO SO SO SO SO SO FUN! You might say I’m in the multipotentialite honeymoon period right now.

I’ve wanted to do this for years. It’s a goal that hasn’t always been at the front of my mind, but I’ve always felt that one day I would “develop the next My So-Called Life,” whatever that means.

I don’t even care if my idea ever gets turned into an actual show. (Well that’s not true. I would obviously be STOKED if my show got made and I could inspire teenager girls and help them feel more understood, the way certain shows did for me.) But for now, I’m doing this for fun, and to show myself that I can.

The funny thing is I always thought writing an original pilot would be a long, cumbersome project but it’s taken me just a few weeks to get the first draft done.

Why now?

A couple months back I was going through a bit of a slump. I was feeling a little down, anxious, and uninspired. On a whim, I decided to google “television writing online course” and found a screenwriting course at Coursera. I saw that it was project-oriented: by the end of the 5 weeks, you will have a finished pilot script and series bible. Really? Okay!

The timeline seemed a little nuts but I impulsively enrolled. It was free so it wasn’t a huge commitment but I knew that it would be so easy for me to not do the assignments and to just let it slide. I decided that I was really going to commit to doing this. I could handle 5 weeks. And, if you’re wondering, I didn’t tell anyone about my new project until I had already written several scenes.

I’m not an impulsive person. If anything, I tend to overthink. But sometimes, NOT thinking and just jumping into a project or adventure is the absolute best thing you can do.

Thinking can give you time to unpack all of the reasons you shouldn’t try something. Thinking can also make a project seem much harder than it actually is.

Impulsiveness When Making Big Decisions

Around this time last year, my wife and I “impulsively” moved to Canada. We literally made the decision and then six weeks later were on the road. It happened really fast, but we just knew it was the right decision for us and we didn’t see any point in dawdling. (Valerie and I are both Aries and INFJs. Maybe that explains part of it?)

I’m not saying that you should always act impulsively. If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you definitely want to think through the consequences. Any decisions that might negatively impact the people around you should probably be considered at length.

Impulsive decision making isn’t something we want to do all the time or even the majority of the time, but sometimes listening to your heart and taking a leap of faith really is the best course of action. This is particularly true if the stakes are low, as with a new hobby or creative project, and the decision feels right on an intuitive level.

Aaaaand to bring us full circle (and to get a little nerdy here), let’s not forget how Felicity Porter followed her crush Ben across the country because he wrote a nice note in her yearbook! But actually, the real reason she impulsively changed her college plans was that she needed independence and autonomy. Moving to New York for college was the best decision Felicity could have made even though she made it on a total whim.

Ahem. Anyway… Let’s move on to the discussion part. ;)

Your Turn

Have you ever made an impulsive decision (big or small) that ended up being the absolute right call? I would love to hear your story in the comments.

Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites build lives and careers around ALL their interests. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is the author of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. Learn more about Emilie here.

34 Comments

  1. You know, I just spent the last couple of minutes trying to remember the last time I made an impulsive decision about anything significant, and I’m coming up empty. I also tend to overthink things, and maybe a little more impulsiveness would be enriching (especially when the stakes are low, as you said). And good luck with your TV series! Whether or not it gets made, it sounds like an interesting, fulfilling project.

  2. Maryske says:

    **You know, I just spent the last couple of minutes trying to remember the last time I made an impulsive decision about anything significant, and I’m coming up empty.**

    Same here. In small things I can be pretty impulsive, but the big things in life… It’s almost as if I’ve conditioned myself to this “We’ll see next week” whenever I come up with some great, life changing idea. And by the time it’s next week, I’ve got another great idea, which is put in the fridge for a week or so to think it through properly, only to be replaced by the next great idea… During that week, it’s absolutely fantastic and I can really think through it and in my mind solve all the possible problems that might arise with it. But somehow, the next idea is always more enticing…

    • Emilie says:

      That’s interesting! I didn’t get into this in the article but the stereotype of multipotentialites is that we’re very impulsive. I don’t buy it though. I mean, I’m sure some multipods drop things quickly but in my experience, a lot of us spend a long time plotting our next moves.

      • Felicia says:

        I totally agree with you, Emilie. In my experience, it may seem that I’ve made some of my life-changing decisions on a whim but when I take a closer look I realize that in those cases an external event acted as a catalyst for a change that had already taken place in some remote corner of my mind. Some decisions, especially disruptive ones, may seem impulsive to the outside observer, but they make sense to the multipotentialite in a more subtle way…

      • Maryske says:

        LOL I didn’t know there was such a thing as a stereotype multipotentialite?

  3. Marisa Mohi says:

    You know, you posted this just when I needed to read it. I’ve become so non-impulsive in the past 10 years. And sure, it’s a result of having to pay bills and knowing the consequences for my actions, but the things that have paid off the most in my life have been the impulsive choices.

  4. Beth says:

    How exciting that you’re writing a TV series Emilie! Amazing!

    Many, many of my impulsive choices have been great decisions. Others are things that have happened by accident and seemed like mistakes, but I then thought ‘hmm…it’s happened now, so just go with it and see where it leads’. Though I love to plan and am also very prone to overthinking, I definitely credit the big milestones in my life to impulse and accident :)

  5. Ian Anderson says:

    Hey Emilie!
    Twenty years ago, when my construction business was going great guns I realised that my whole life was mapped out. I reckoned if I didn’t do something, I’d never do it.

    I packed it all in, put my tools into storage and volunteered with VSO (kinda like the US peace corps). Did the training and went to live in Uganda, overseeing the construction of maternity health units in remote villages.

    Best two and a half years of my life. I had a ball and did some great work. I also met a nurse from Norway and then I was off on a different kind of adventure, (thus proving the maxim that if you want to meet extraordinary people, you have to extraordinary things…).

    Making that impulsive decision free me up to do it again and again (only the first time is hard). Now I’ve also lived in New Zealand, mostly quit my day job and have semi-settled in Norway whilst the kids are in school.

    Impulse driven by passion makes life worth living.

    • Sarah says:

      Wow! What adventures, Ian! :D I’m feeling the opposite, like I DON’T have my life planned out. There’s got to be a middle ground between overplanning and underplanning, like between impulse decisions and overthinking. Or maybe you just go back and forth between the two!

      • Paco Hadley says:

        There’s a theory in academic advising called, “Planned Happenstance.” It’s the idea that because the future is uncertain, we can’t make an absolute plan for what’s coming. However, we can plan for the unexpected, so be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities when they arrive.

        In Ian’s example, he wouldn’t have been able to impulsively choose to join the VSO if he hadn’t worked so hard to build his construction business in the first place. Having put the time and effort in initially opened the doors that otherwise would have been closed.

        • Robby says:

          Thanks Ian for sharing. I agree with you Paco. At the minute I’m trying to build a great company which hopefully I’ll leave in a couple of years to do some other extraordinary things.

    • Sherri says:

      Yes!! Great story.

  6. Amanda says:

    Now that I know myself better, it’s easier to make the good kinds of impulsive decisions. I can say yes or no more quickly because I just know what’s right for me. Like how you already knew you wanted to write screenplays, you just didn’t know it was time until that day.

    I also know that I still lean towards saying yes to things when I should say no. I’m trying to keep my yeses in line with my bigger goals now instead of impulsively people pleasing.

  7. Sacha says:

    Great post! When this popped up in my email, I was like, YASSS! I was impulsive just yesterday!! Although, reflecting on some of those decisions, quite a few have been rash. Maybe 60/40 not-so-good choice over good? I count me buying my Nikon and MacBook Pro as excellent impulsivitity, as they helped develop my creative side. On a different scale, I spent 10 years in the social services field, and while there were changes in the field that had slowly been taking place (health care cut backs, company’s closing, salary positions turning per diem, etc.), one day I got overwhelmed with the reality that I could not stop the negative changes taking place in the field, let alone help everyone (or gasp! – save the world) and that I was slowly being worked to death and my own mental health teetering – I up and quit. No notice, no explanation, just gave my resignation effective immediately. In the moment I was was scared out of my wits, terrified that I was making the hugest career mistake ever. Not to mention having a husband, a three year old daughter, AND a mortgage.

    Long story short…My husband was supportive of me leaving that job. It took me a while to get back on my feet, but I got to manage social media for a local business, then I got my real estate license and now I’m able to freely do as I please. There have been some hiccups in between, but we’re happy with life and that is the most important thing!

  8. Barbara says:

    I have found that Human Design helps me in making decisions and whether impulsive or not is the best way to go. Sometimes I just KNOW, but at other times it’s about waiting for more clarity and then moving from there. If i’m not sure, I usually don’t. I wait.

  9. Erika says:

    Same here. I also tend to overthink my big decisions in life, which somehow gives me the feeling to get stucked, as I almost never decide to really start something new unless I am not 150% sure that it is the right thing to or way to go…It has been a while since I have taken my last impulsive decisions, but most of them were good ones. So it is inspiring to read and hear your story, Emilie. I also liked your idea of starting a project or learning something new within a short period of commitment (like your 5 weeks course). So I enrolled in a workshop for writing short stories. ;-)
    Good luck with your TV show!

    Erika

  10. Angela says:

    My gosh! I am quite excited to hear you investigating scrip writing. I think the film and tv worlds needs some new breakthroughs.

    I find I am 50% impulsive and 50% an over thinker and almost all of my new projects start out great, but honestly only about 50% keep that awesome flow you’re talking about. I think the key is to be able to recognize when something needs overthinking and when something might not. And that really is a skill all in-and-of it’s self.
    I find that when I’m in a good space (emotionally and spiritually), it is definitely much easier to tell which approach is the right one.

    But I’ve found that not every impulsive decision needs to bear fruit in the short term. I’ve had a few projects that I’ve jumped on impulsively and for the first little while they work out great.
    But then I hit a wall and I can’t seem to take it any further.
    Then months, or even years later, I am in a different head space and that project will pop to the front of my mind again and bam! the flow starts again.

    Happy writing.

  11. Keli says:

    I am one of those over thinkers. In June last year I made a decision to learn how to be a coach, which I did and three courses and two certifications later it is time to DO this.

    I was a Marketing director, social media strategist and communication consultant before so marketing my coaching business should be easy right? Well.. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and not doing much.

    Two things have happened lately, firstly I discovered that there are other people like me and we are called multipotentialites – thanks Emilie, you set me free.

    Secondly, I had a long standing, almost ready, potential coaching client on the phone yesterday morning saying that she still couldn’t commit to long term coaching but would really like to do a strategy session for 2018 to help her set goals for the year.

    An idea was born, create a 2 hour one-on-one workshop, call it Vision 2018 and offer it to clients as a starter kit for coaching, create a discounted version for previous clients to bring them back for a refresher. In 24 hours I have written the manual, created a webpage, facebook and Linkedin adverts (thanks Linkedin for the $50 free starter), done my first session and signed up 3 new clients.

    How is that for impulsive paying off?

  12. Xixi Sky says:

    I love this post! I followed my heart and moved to Iceland this past month. I had zero plan and no money. Somehow I found myself a nice apartment in downtown for free so I don’t need to stress to pay rent. I can devote my energy to do my creative projects or just focus on my inner growth. I do think impulsively doing something can shake up your life, especially if you feel stagnant and don’t know where to turn. Sometimes short-term projects can turn into something bigger. If not, then it just becomes part of the fun and adventure!

    • Maryske says:

      Whoa, I envy you there… I move around a lot, too, but it’s always getting a job first, and *then* I can move there. And when I’m out of money (again…) after my usual 1-year-contracts and some time of job seeking, moving abroad without a job to go to seems even more of a no-no…
      So how is Iceland? It’s on my bucket list to go and live there, too!

    • Robby says:

      Nice one. All the best.

  13. Paco Hadley says:

    I was just reading Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose (after reading your book, of course!), and she said something that I thought was very good for me. She said that for specific types of multipods, impulse is creative fuel. When I’m in the mood, I can move forward with eight projects at once just by rapidly switching between them whenever the impulse strikes me. Just last Sunday, I was researching foamed cement for alternative home building, building two different ukuleles from scratch, and preparing a presentation on multipods for an academic advising conference. And all of this in a 3-hour period.

    It may look like I can’t stick with something for for more than ten minutes, but it’s actually just me using that impulsiveness as a drive forward.

  14. Flavia Del piero says:

    venti anni fa, ora ne ho 53, lessi un articolo su un corso di teatro basato sul metodo stanislawskj con una attrice/maestra argentina feci 3 anni di studio e rappresentazioni.questo mi aprì e mi fece capire il mio potenziale creativo il mio corpo e anche la mia comicità latente. poi non feci altre esperienze perché adottati un bimbo che ora ha 16 anni ma so che potrei rifarlo. Bellissima esperienza!

  15. Robin says:

    I used to be a lot more impulsive and spontaneous when I was younger, but a long, controlling marriage drained so much of “me” out of me that even 3 1/2 years after the divorce I still feel weak and stuck. (Oddly, the last impulsive thing I did was the divorce, and even though things haven’t worked out for me yet, that was absolutely a great move to make!) Overthinking, based on fear and depression, is starting to cause financial issues for me. I’m wasting more than my potential, I’m wasting my life – and, of course, knowing that contributes to my depression and fear, so it has all become a vicious cycle. More than that, I really miss my younger, freer self.

    This post and the comments have stirred up a lot of feelings for me. Not all of them are positive feelings, but that’s probably a good thing. It’s way past time to dig myself out of my rut. Maybe an impulsive decision is exactly what I need!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Your post got me thinking. Am I impulsive? In my head I am, and the number of creative software packages I own and courses I have enrolled in would suggest I am.

    But the next step of actually doing is usually subdued by family commitments (ill parents,grandchildren and a risk averse husband), the need to earn consistent money and sometimes fear of either success or failure.

    But I love randomness, surprises, innovations and solving problems.

    Finding your book Emilie and then the Puttytribe were “take the plunge” moments and have opened up a floodgate of emotions, reflections and self-analysis that, quite frankly, are overwhelming. (But knowing I am not alone is a relief!)

    I will impulsively research a new topic, ignoring work that needs doing. I love changes in plans that bring excitement (clearly irritating hubby).

    Thanks for your insights Emilie and I wish you great success on the script writing. What an adventure!

  17. A year back exactly during this time, I was struggling with dilemma to quit my job and proceed for a full time play writer. I decided to start writing while I was working at the job, I went to office and thought about the scenes which I want to write in the evening and then eventually my boss started to realize that I dont have my full concentration. I decided to quit around December and work for a group as a full time writer. After I quit my job the drama group had to shut down because of some internal issues.
    Now I did not have a job nor I was able to write. I went for a solo trip for the next 50 days and spent all my savings without any plans. While I was returning back home I got the idea of starting an artist community in India.
    Today after 6 months of execution, we are present in major cities of the country and I feel proud that I took the impulsive decision to quit my job and be able to start something like this. @platformforartists

  18. Rols says:

    Wonderful post… i am an overthinker and i can’t count how many ideas have died in my head cos I’m always weighing the pros and cons and somehow the cons always weigh more. Sometimes we all should just go for it.

  19. Cap says:

    This article arrived in my inbox the day after I handed in my resignation for a job I’m no longer happy in. I’m taking it as a sign.

  20. Michael says:

    Nice article. I find myself often making impulsive decisions and then coming up with all the really good reasons why I made the right choice. I’m not sure if that’s because I subconsciously analyzed the thing and those bits only surfaced later, or because I somehow justified the whole thing afterward, but it does seem to work.

    You make a good point that this is not a good process for every decision. I find that if I have a sudden urge to make a major life change, but I feel hesitant about it, that’s a good sign that I need to consider this more carefully. Sometimes the impulse comes, but needs a bit of planning and preparation to be put into effect. Sometimes I realize that I didn’t fully understand the situation and I don’t really want what I thought I wanted.

    Sometimes though, I am limited by fear. I read Paolo Coehlo’s book “The Alchemist,” and thought it made a lot of sense. But I am not sure I could throw my whole life up in the air like the boy in the book. Taking those kind of bold steps could create the dream life I desire, but I don’t know how much I trust Paolo’s insight, so I hesitate. Still working on that one. Cheer!

  21. Ginger says:

    For me I’ve found that sudden impulses are often in fact my deepest desires surfacing. I’ve learned to pay attention to that tug toward (or away from) something. Where did that come from? Is it worth pursuing?

    Sometimes I wait and see if it persists. I have made some big decisions (deciding to start learning how to play cello comes to mind) in a short time frame, but I try to test new ideas over the course of at least a few weeks to see if they stick.

  22. Soraya says:

    Im a 53 years old woman and all of my life has
    Been made impulsively !.. From my maste graduatng in chemistry . My marriage , my jobs, Applying for permanent residency of Canada , immigrating to Canada, then going back to my home country ! .. and again coming back to Canada ….
    Ha

  23. When I was 23, I was on the path to become ordained as a minister, and on a impulse, I took a job in Seoul. From looking at the job posting to arriving in Seoul was approx three months. It was the best thing I ever did, as it altered the trajectory of my life. Needless to say, I am not a minister now at 43. Working at trying to create a multipod portfolio life (mixing ideas from Emilie and Jeff Goins). I’m a photographer, with interests in politics and bookkeeping…It’s about making my own way, and to make it sustainable.

  24. Davide Testa says:

    Hey all! =D

    “Thinking can also make a project seem much harder than it actually is.” I love this sentece of yours Emilie!

    I think that in my daily life I love taking impulsive decisions on those – I would call them small – choices in which I find harder to end up with a clear-minded decision. I love “listening my soul” on these and to let my not-thinking me to show up and suggest me what I might like the most between the options.

    Days ago I was wondering what I might have loved the most between enjoy the night with my friends and resting. The bed was shouting to me strong strong! I think that I only needed to listen my inner self to have it clear that between these two cool ideas what I was striving for was getting with my friends!

    Good luck with you Hollywood time Emilie! =D

    Greetings to all,

    Davide

  25. Anjesen says:

    I don’t buy neither the stereotype of multipotentialites being very impulsive nor the one of being obviously super happily enthusiastic about our new projects. At least I’m not usually like that. I’m a Scorpio and an INTP. As a (mostly) typical INTP, I also tend to overthink all the time, especially about the possibility of bad outcomes of any hypothetical thing I’m thinking of plunging into. That usually leads to self-sabotage, but not always; one must remember to hold the bull by the horns in order to keep walking forward. It’s a big struggle against the lizzard brain taking place all the time inside the head.

    That been said, sometimes I do act very impulsively…
    -Like the several times in the past when I enrolled with two or three music bands at the same time, while I was juggling at other personal projects and the University.
    -Like the day that I decided to study Philosophy just because I loved it.
    -Like one week ago, when a fluid and lively “yes” came spit out of my mouth the very moment I was asked to return to the rehearsal room with my original fourteen-years-dormant-blackmetal-band -right after having decided (after much thinking about it) that the bass guitar was going to be put aside as a mere “one person part-time hobby” to give me time to concentrate on my creative projects of another kind that are advancing with a good direction right now-.
    -Or like two weeks ago, when I signed up for a “Keyframe Concept Digital Art challenge” as well as for a “Daily Sketching Drawing Test” to push myself into sketching, modeling, drawing and painting on a daily basis with specific objectives in mind.

    Sometimes one has to listen to that voice screaming “Hell, yes, do that!”. Sometimes that voice knows better and the impulse leads to big things. When one is a professional procrastinator, exploring new things and opportunities based on apparently spontaneous hunches seems to be the only logical guideline to go ahead and succeed, as illogical as it may sound. The thing is that we -overthinkers- think so much about the possible outcomes that very often we end up doing nothing at all, but somehow all that time the answers are taking shape in a covert part of the brain until they suddenly come to the surface in what seems to be a burst of sparks. I think that sometimes the apparently impulsive answers are not so.

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