Life is full of difficult decisions. People struggle over them, sometimes for years, even people living great lives. You probably have one or two or more. I’ve had my share.
A couple questions people asked me recently got me to figure it out. If your questions are reasonably similar, read on.
Typical life questions
“Which job should I take?”
“Should we become boyfriend and girlfriend?”
A couple friends asked me these questions lately. You probably have similar questions. “What major should I pick,” “should I get a new apartment,” “what should I do for vacation,” and so on. The questions affect many parts of your life for a long time, but they don’t have clear answers.
You’ve probably succeeded at enough things at life that you’ll probably succeed at whatever job you take or whether you call yourselves boyfriend and girlfriend or whatever options you choose. Even if things fall apart, the world has plenty of jobs, girls, and guys. You can find others if you lose this one.
Still, you can never avoid things going awry. Unexpected things happen.
When you get life — when you understand how to make life work for you, as opposed to blowing in the breeze, hoping for the best — you can always make things work for you, even when they don’t go as planned. The more you get life, the better you can make things work for yourself. You never have to powerlessly hope for the best.
When you’re in control of your life, your choice of job or partner doesn’t determine whether your life will go well or not. It just determines the framework within which you make your life awesome. It will go awesome either way. You only choose the context.
How to look at big life questions
I suggest the important question is not should you take this or that job or make this person your partner but
Do I want to choose my life or let it be chosen for me, blowing in the breeze?
or, in other words,
Do I want to be the architect of my life or a passive observer?
What difference does this perspective make?
Deciding to make your life yours won’t make the challenges go away or make them easier. But it will be your life and your challenges. When things don’t go as expected, you will handle the situation because you know you created it. But you won’t complain because you knew the inevitability of the unexpected.
I find this perspective motivates answering the life questions more decisively and with less anxiety, increases your satisfaction with your choices, and motivates resolving, even attacking, whatever challenges follow. It focuses your attention on what you can do as opposed to hypothetical futures. That happens when you own something.
When you have the skills to make any part of you life contribute to its overall awesomeness — emotional intelligence, self-awareness, ability to lead yourself and others — then you have that choice. I can’t think of anything more valuable than developing those skills.
Again, whatever your choice, problems will come up. You’ll survive. Heck, even if you don’t get life, you’ll still live through your choices. You don’t have to sweat them. You only choose in what context.
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