It’s not always a straight road
Just like it’s easier reading books, blogs and appreciating art that some one else has created; it’s easier leaving life up to fate, destiny, a higher power or even friends and family to direct and just living a life others think is best for us.
The difficult bit is writing the story, crafting the blog post and making life yours to live. The life people say we only live once – it doesn’t take long for us to figure out that saying is true.
I’m not saying that we should curtail YouTube, delete all the blogs we are following, never read another book or ignore our friends and families and stubbornly stick to what we think is right; because if you’re reading and comprehending this (i.e. not a bot), then you most likely are human and sticking to what you think is right all the time doesn’t make it right.
It’s not even about creating the big things; though I’m not dissuading you from designing and building a new skyscraper if you are so inclined. It’s simply navigating the crossroads, which as vague as it sounds, happens more often than you think. Too often I see people asking others for advice and in the end making a decision that is the “popular” one. Others just leave the decision and their goals to the future and live in the comfort of the moment. Have you heard the saying “Not making a decision is a decision in itself”?
Decision making skills are naively construed as a straightforward skill we gain throughout our life. I think it is much more than that. As a child, decisions are made for us, everyday, and we try to break those decisions and rules every chance we get by throwing a tantrum or asking “but why?”. Our parents take us places, teach us things, tell us what we can and cannot have, who they think is a bad influence, what they think we should study or potential careers they think would be interesting, citing experience and wisdom to support their advice or directives.
When we move into our teens, as much as we try to assert our independence and rebel, most of the time we just want to live in the moment and enjoy hanging out with friends, living in the comfort of the routine modern society provides. We search for what’s important – the latest trends, being popular, having friends, school results and throughout this time, our interactions and responses start forming a basis for our values.
In our 20s is when things get exciting. Hindsight and aging forces us to face the international truth that somehow wisdom does convert to slightly better decisions and even if our elders are not always right, it is helpful to get their point of view. The smaller decisions we make in our 20s about which friends we want to keep, how many parties we want to attend, whether we will take the first graduate job we get helps us become more self aware. We start to examine the labels we use on ourselves and reinvent or reinforce what we know of ourselves. What does all this have to do with making decisions? More than you think.
To navigate the crossroads we need to be confident in ourselves. Confident, not arrogant; realistic not idealistic and self aware not selfless. We can’t make decisions based on what is best for others, we can’t choose based on what most people think we would or should do, we can’t wait for fate and destiny to do what they will because then at the end of the day, we lose ourselves and the idea of our own ‘free will’. If we stayed as we were as teenagers, choosing something because it’s the opposite of what our parents say or because it’s what your friends would do then we would never know what life would be like if we took charge of it.
The higher powers not within our control will do what they will, people will think what they want of you (some may be truer than others), some will project their lost dreams and hopes onto your situation – kind advice may not be so kind because it prevents you from looking within and around yourself and picking the road you want to tread.
So examine the facts, speak to people you trust to gain insights and recommendations, to bounce ideas off, to ensure you’ve considered the situation well and not to judge; understand who you are and what you want, listen to your intuition or your gut. You are where all these things intersect. You are at the crossroads. Get the best perspective you can, make the best decision you can make and then make the most of that decision and live life brilliantly.