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Small Decisions, Big Outcomes; How I met Mrs. SSC

Have you ever read any of those choose your own adventure books? I’m probably dating myself, but when I was a kid there were books that let you make a choice at some point in the story. For instance, your character comes to a door in a castle and then you’re offered a choice. If you choose to go through the door, turn to page 109. If you choose to keep going down the hallway, turn to page 95. This would go on until you get to a resolution, typically I died a lot… However, I would usually go back and read all the different choices to see what various outcomes I had missed out on. Too bad you can’t do that in life, but it’s moving ever forward and ever onward. A favorite blog of mine Our Next Life wrote about this referring to it as “Sliding Doors”, while other folks may think of it as a butterfly effect.

Like those choose your own adventure books, have you ever looked back and identified key points in your life where a decision you made seemed to greatly affect your life’s trajectory from that point forward? I have a couple pretty significant ones, but I was reminded of one recently that put me where I am today in SO many ways. This one began on a Monday night, but not just any Monday night; a Monday Night Football (MNF) night.

I love watching football, especially at the beginning of the season, when you’ve been starved of football action for months, so I was excited there was a double header that night for MNF. I was in grad school and still working full-time as well, so I was pretty beat, because I’d been at work from 6am until 2, then school from 2-6 pm. As I was heading out of the building a friend asked if I was sticking around for a talk by a recruiter from one of the major oil companies. I told him, “Nope, I’m going to watch some MNF, have some beers, and relax.” He asked if I could help get it set up at least, since I was also a fellow officer in our American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) student chapter. Reluctantly I agreed, and set everything up and then ultimately decided to stick around for the talk. Little did I know how much that seemingly small decision would affect my life.

Afterwards, I noticed some people talking with him and another company rep about setting up interviews for the next day. I had looked at their online interview schedule previously, and it had been full, so I considered it “taken care of”. However, I went to stand in line to ask if I could get an interview spot, when I heard 3 different people in front of me mention the online scheduling system wasn’t working right for them and didn’t allow them to block out an empty spot. The recruiter said she would open some more interview spots to accommodate that, no big deal, so when I got to her, I also mentioned I couldn’t get a spot booked either. Of course, I didn’t mention it was because they were full, but I got an interview slot just the same.

Maybe I could work here?

Maybe I could work here?

The rest of the night was spent watching MNF in the background and totally reworking my resume. It was a nightmare because I hadn’t updated it in what seemed like years… Years! Plus I needed to get it in a good state to highlight how I could be an asset for this company even though I had zero Oil and Gas experience. I highlighted all my work experience with managing projects, drilling crews, reports, new bid proposals, and more to get it into decent shape for my “early” interview at 10am. The interview went well, and a few months later I got an internship offer for that summer which I accepted. Woohoo!!

We wandered around here a lot on the weekends.

We wandered around here a lot on the weekends.

My internship was in New Orleans, and they put us up in a hotel near the office since the company figured this was easier than having a bunch of interns in sketchy housing they found themselves. There were only 3 Geologists in the whole group of ~30 interns, and we were the oldest of the group by far. When we heard another geologist would be joining us in a few weeks, it was exciting to have the prospect of someone else older than 25 that we could hang out with. I remember the first time I saw this geologist, she walked into the lobby to meet us all for lunch, and I remember thinking, “Why can’t I be with someone like that?” Little did I know this was the future Mrs. SSC.

We hit it off that summer, and spent most of our free time together; at work, outside of work, duruing lunch at work, and we realized we wanted to be together. Then the internship was over and I returned to Denver and she returned to Chicago to finish up school. Booo, long-distance. We talked daily, and traveled as much as our schedules would allow, and I proposed to her that following Spring when she came to visit. She said yes, and we started our lives together that Fall. It was a pretty short engagement, and yes, we ultimately married within about 15 months of meeting each other – long distance no less, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

Us a few years later in Tahoe, with our oldest.

Us a few years later in Tahoe, with our oldest.

Just that small decision to not go watch MNF changed the whole trajectory of my life. Had I gone home, I wouldn’t have gotten that interview slot, nor would I have gotten that internship with that company and never met Mrs. SSC. All stemming from a decision of “Fine… I’ll stick around and listen to the talk.” I would’ve accepted a different intern offer, and I’m sure my life would be pretty different. Mrs. SSC helped me realize how to not spend all the money you have. She’s showed me how to be more financially responsible and the power of investing. She’s done a lot for me on the financial side of life that helped get us where we are today, but even more she’s showed me a lot about how to be a better person for her, for myself, and now for our kids as well. She’s been a great friend, supporter and confidant, and added so much positivity into my life, and it all started because I decided not to be lazy and go watch MNF. Amazing…

Looking back I had no idea of the power of that decision, even though now it reads like a choose your own adventure book type of decision point. I chose something atypical for me, and my life literally changed paths from what typical Mr. SSC would do. I can imagine had I not made that choice, I’d still have credit card debt, school loan debt, car loans, probably a boat loan, home loan, and wondering why I am still struggling with money even though my salary had more than doubled. I’d complain about how it’s tough to make ends meet, and be oblivious to the fact it starts with me and my spending habits, and has less to do with how much you make than how you allocate it in your life.

Wait, I need those dollars!

Wait, I need those dollars!

I learned that if you keep doing things the same way you’ve always done them, they will stay the same they’ve always been. I made another decision that night and that was to do something I typically don’t do. It’s like the Seinfeld episode where George decides his inner voice has been wrong his whole life, so he does the exact opposite of his inner voice. He becomes wildly successful, gets a hot girl, everything changes for the best starting from that decision. I made a similar choice, and that was if I wanted things to change, I needed to start making different decisions than I would normally do, and for me it all started on that night.

Have you had any seemingly small decision affect your life in a big way? I’d love to hear your stories!

26 thoughts on “Small Decisions, Big Outcomes; How I met Mrs. SSC

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! I wonder how many decisions have had major impacts that I didn’t even know about. :)
      Happy Thursday to you!

  1. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    Cute story! I feel like that’s just the way life goes — little decisions can totally change the course of your life, and you’ll never know it until after the fact. It’s great to have big goals and a vision for your life, but it’s also healthy to be open to whatever opportunities arise. You just can’t predict those things!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Funny how one seemingly minor decision can set up such a big chain of events. I had plans to stay around KY and finish school there. Then I visited CO in August, and 5 months later had moved there, was in school, and started a whole new chapter. Things change quickly and you ever know the impact.

  2. Tawcan

    Cute story, every little decision that we make in our lives will make a difference somehow. For example, if I didn’t go to this Movember party one year, I would have never met Mrs. T and my life would have been completely different. :)

  3. Debtless in Texas

    That is a great story! It really is amazing how little changes or choices make such a huge difference.

    I’ve had 2 that I can think of…one was not going to the gym at my normal gym time overseas and the area of the gym got hit with a big ass rocket. At best, it would have been shrapnel in the backside and at worst, I wouldnt be telling this story!

    Also, I decided to help my friend and his GF move their crap into a new apartment…where I met my future wife as she was the roommate. Had I gone with the normal instinct of “hell no, Im not free manual labor for helping you move” life would be totally different.

    Small decisions….

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Whoa! That’s a pretty big impact there, glad you weren’t at the gym then.

      Small decisions have all kinds of outcomes.

  4. Taylor

    This is so cute! The small decisions are crazy to think about because they are ultimately what define your entire life. I loved hearing more about you two and how you met :)

    The “small” decision I made was studying abroad in London. It’s how I met my partner who is British. We did 1.5 years of long-distance between London and Los Angeles, so I feel your long-distance pain!) But in all seriousness, meeting my partner changed my entire life and I wouldn’t be who I am today if we hadn’t met.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! Yeah it’s like the opposite of death by a thousand cuts. All these seemingly small decisions play out an end up shaping who you are and where you are.

      I like your story, and the long distance thing really bites. Especially as long distance as you had it. I’m glad it worked out for you too!

  5. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    Wow – I love stories when such small things can make such a big impact. Who would have known that passing on football would lead to your future wife! I haven’t had any small decisions that affected my life in nearly the magnitude that you had. My wife and I had been friends for awhile but one day when we were talking she mentioned she was going ice skating and asked if I wanted to go even though she never thought I would say yes. A couple weeks later we finally started dating and 8 years later we have an amazing life.

    Amazing how small decisions can play such a big role in who we become.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s great you have a great relationship with what started as a friend. Small decisions add up to some big outcomes sometimes.

  6. Alyssa @ GenerationYRA

    This is such a lovely story! I definitely love to hear that kinds where just one subtle decision can change your life immensely. Often for me, one choice happens to lead to something that I never anticipated (mostly positively!). I have the notion that whatever happens is the best possible thing that could happen to me at the moment (whether it’s testing my strength, or allowing me to grow).

    One decision I could think of that stands out, is when I was almost reaching high school I hit a breaking point with one of my passions (training in dance). At the time I was dancing over 20 hours a week after school and on weekends and I told my parents I wanted to quit in tears! Now, it’s incredibly easy to just say “Okay” and quit for a sport, but my parents encouraged me to stick with it. Little did I know, I would move on to have two jobs related to dance, compete at a competitive level, gain more confidence, choreograph, and now volunteer at a local Boys & Girls club to teach dance. By not giving up my passion, it’s poured out in so many positive ways for over 15 years. Thank you for sharing your story about meeting Mrs. SSC!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! I agree that I also feel that whatever happens is what is supposed to be happening, good, bad, or ugly.

      I felt the same way with soccer. I’d been playing since 3rd grade, spring and fall and my first year in high school, it was so politicized and the coach played favorites, not to mention I was feeling burnt out. I did quit soccer but focused more on diving and was able to place in the top ten in State championships every year, so I think it still turned out ok. :)

      My parents didn’t want me to quit, but I made the argument that between diving, soccer, 4 school clubs, and an after school job, something had to go and that was where I was getting the least return in happiness and satisfaction, so then they were more supportive.

  7. Seeking Saturdays

    I know exactly what you mean! It’s amazing how one small decision is a major turning point in your life when you look back on it in retrospect.

    On the same subject, I had failed Physics on the path to my Computer Science degree because I was working 40 hours a week with a full school load. If I had passed, I would’ve never sat behind Mrs. Saturday in my next attempt at physics class. Love the story! :)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s an awesome story! You never would’ve thought you’d be glad to fail a class until years later you realize what it led too. :)

  8. Our Next Life

    You know I love this story. :-) (And thanks for the nice mention!) I’m completely convinced that the best things in life are the ones we appreciate most, and I think when you meet the love of your life in such a serendipitous way, you can’t help but appreciate them all the more. (We also met serendipitously, while not living in the same place, and I’m convinced I feel luckier, even all these years later, than I would if we’d just met while working in the same office or attending the same school.) How incredible for you both, and now your kids, that the universe brought two wonderful people together, all thanks to skipping out on some football. :-)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! I think serendipity is great. Who would’ve thought, skipping football would’ve led to so much? It does make me feel luckier, especially having the long distance factored in after the summer, and that it didn’t quell our desire or passions any. It’s pretty amazing meeting someone from a different town, state, possibly country and have it work out so well.

      One of our good friends had the opportunity to go on an Antarctic “cruise” and get to see penguins and such. It’s a way smaller boat and not like a typical cruise, but she’d been on the waitlist for a long while, and got a call that a spot opened up. Since she was traveling solo, she got bumped to the top of the list, but she wasn’t sure about taking the time off of work (~3 weeks straight) due to a project deadline. Us and others helped convince her to go, and she met her current boyfriend on that trip. She lives here in Houston and he lives and works in Belgium, so, um, yeah, they would’ve never met if she had said, “Next time I’ll go, work’s too busy.” They’ve been doing the long distance relationship for over a year now and are working out plans for relocating to live together and be closer.
      Serendipity is pretty awesome.

  9. Amber Tree

    What a nice story… Life can indeed be full of pleasant surprises as the result of making last minute decisions.
    In 2005, A friend of mine invited me to join her to a party with colleagues, as she thought there might be someone that could interest me. As I was out late the day/night before and feeling really tired. I considered to stay home. When I got the text message they were at the party, I hesitated a little and went any way. 6 months later were living together and after 18 months we bought our house…
    Life is in small details

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      It’s crazy how things can change on a “Fine, I’ll go and not be lazy” sort of whim. :)

      Life is definitely in the small details.

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