Alto Does Not Mean Stop!
Live Like You Can
By Janis McDonald
The glorieta traffic circle is the wonderful way Mexico merges traffic from all four corners.
When I first moved to Mexico, I was warned, “When you see the red Alto sign at the glorieta, do not stop unless you can’t go immediately. You will be rear-ended and hear loud honking directed at you, the obvious newbie in town.”
Basically, the system keeps the traffic flowing and acts as a traffic-calming device, depending on everyone’s understanding of the word “yield.”
Approaching the glorieta, I start looking for my “chance” to slide into the traffic. In order to do this successfully, I must make eye contact; wave a hand to allow others to pass, slow down to permit others in, get out of the way of the people who speed up, and deal with the always troubling question, “Should I drive on the inside or the outside of the circle?”
Many years ago, I took my first trip abroad and quickly learned about roundabouts, England’s version of the glorieta. Fearfully entering my first roundabout without knowing where to get off, I simply froze “in motion,” circling endlessly. I felt taking the wrong exit would change my life forever, never allowing me to correct my mistake. So round and round I went, receiving lots of evil looks and honking.
Finally, being forced to exit, I found myself on the highway to nowhere, yet happily discovering a wrong decision could be re-decided once I found my way back. I pronounced then and there that I would not allow pushy drivers and honking horns to flood my better judgment. I would decide when to get off when I knew it was right, no matter how many circles it took.
In my pre-boomer years, making any decision was torturous and filled with over-thinking, fear of making wrong decisions and the belief if I made the wrong one, my life, as I knew it, would end. If I had used this technique at the glorieta, I would still be sitting at the Alto sign. I have learned that I must use timing, awareness, judgment, patience, and hope. I know now to trust the feeling in my body and heart to let me know when it is time to take action or just wait.
Loving the use of analogy, I decided to compare my glorieta experiences with how I make decisions today as a boomer. My decision-making process goes like this:
1) Observe the situation using my best non-judgment thinking
2) Gather the facts and information I need to make a decision
3) Write a catastrophe report and decide if I can live with the worst outcome
4) Wait until I feel it is right for me to choose
5) Be patient and avoid pressure from others to decide quickly
6) Check for the feeling of intuition I have found in my boomer years
7) When I know, don’t hesitate, take action, trust and know it will be ok
Most importantly, rewind and reset my decision if needed, based on new information.
I would love to know how you make decisions. Is it hard? Do you have a method? Do you trust your intuition? How has decision-making changed over the years?
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Janis McDonald, Long-Time Resident, Boomer Coach, Private Gym