If you don’t give yourself permission to change your mind you constantly run the risk of ‘what if’ analysis paralysis (worst case) and thought friction (best case). That best case will slow you down, the worst case will stop you in your tracks. Making a decision on a path will enable you to more effectively move forwards to your goals (Berkley Career guidance). Be it your career, a project, or a task the act of giving yourself this permission is mind grease. I hear you cry " this means being inconsistent and haphazard" or "I’ll never complete another project if I do this". Far from it.
Changing your mind can and will result in a changing course. Sometimes that’s important. The world and our experience of it is a fluid, living, breathing thing. If through your adventures you discover something new and potentially important it might be time to tack a new course. One of my favorite examples of this is the discovery of arguably one of the most important things in human history, penicillin, a total accident. A grossly simplified example would be that you set out for Cleveland (Seth Godin, poke the box) and decide en route, for whatever reason, that you need to go to Istanbul instead (my addition to the analogy).
I’m a firm believer that broken expectations are one of the worst things we as humans can experience. From being stood up to expecting but getting a very different performance review. All crushing. Even something as simple as not receiving what you thought you ordered a restaurant can result in a surprisingly negative feeling.
The last thing we ever want to be is an engine of broken expectations. In particular when they are tied to promises. Giving yourself permission to change your mind isn’t a license to go around breaking promises. If the incident at hand involves other people (hint: it usually does) then you need to be careful to balance your needs with the commitments you make to others. If you do have to break a promise you would be wise to confide in that person and potentially even ask for their forgiveness, always it must be handled with care. When it comes to business you can define a contract up front to be clear on expectations and to protect all parties. Gives, gets, costs for exiting. And if you just discovered the next penicillin maybe your change of course will even be welcomed.
So in short when you give yourself permission to change your mind it enables you (ironically) to be decisive and to act. To plough forwards. You can channel your resourcefulness into your goal and go after it.
Now, the punch line is that by doing, by creating, by executing you are exploring. You will discover new things that will affect your purpose, just like Sir Alexander Fleming. You will learn and grow and it is more likely you will have to change your mind.
When have you changed your mind in a profound way?