Life is full of choices both big and small. Some have implications that last a few seconds, others, a lifetime. The choices we make often determine the path we walk in life, and I think recently I’ve begun to have a paradigm shift on this entire subject.
Chances are you don’t know me, and if you’re reading this it’s probably because you too are faced with some of these big choices in your own life. You’re certainly not a lone, as I suspect most people who are being completely honest with themselves are always on the precipice of a major life decision. The thing is, I’m writing this, and you’re probably reading this because of one little word – risk, and thus ultimately, fear.
Fear of the unknown, of consequences we can’t forecast or predict, of mistakes, of being ridiculed (even internally), of being imperfect. We don’t have that crystal ball we all long for some days, it simply doesn’t exist. No one has it, and yet some people seem to make all the right decisions in life – they truly have something we identify with a profound level and typically, at least in many cases, we covet – happiness.
At first glance a lot of people create an equation where happiness = wealth (money). But when we dig further we realize that money itself is not what we’re really after, we’re only after the opportunity it provides – or at least the one it appears to provide. In reality I think many of us seek the freedom provided by wealth, or, again, the perceived notion thereof. In reality, many wealthy people say if they just had a little bit more, then, and only then, would they be happy. Don’t chase that.
So let’s cast aside the notion of money making us happy. Freedom, autonomy, creativity, and independence are our ultimate goals aren’t they? Perhaps some of us long to do something meaningful with our lives, others may simply want to see the world, while others may finally start that business or family they always dreamed about, but never had the time for. Maybe it’s all of the above. But time, it seems, is the key phrase.
Time is the one thing that works against us always in this world – it’s never on our side. From the moment we are born it works against us until the day we cease to live. It’s a cold reality when thought out, but it’s also a very awakening fact too. We often put off for tomorrow what we could achieve today, not because we seek to procrastinate but because sometimes we lack the honest courage to make a choice today, assuming we always have more… more time. It’s such a precious resource and we often waste it, foolishly at times no less.
I won’t lie – I’m afraid. I’m afraid and often lack the courage to live the life I want to live. I’m afraid to move to the place I so dearly love. I’m afraid to invest further into my businesses and grow them (or not). I’m afraid to separate myself from the people surrounding me who don’t embrace the real me and instead choose to surround myself with the people who genuinely love me for who I authentically am. I’m afraid to let my wife down with a poor decision, one that might have severe financial consequences. I’m afraid of loosing something I have – possessions, money, health insurance, people, and the list goes on forever.
I’m afraid more than I’m not afraid. I’m worried my life is slipping by and I’m loosing that precious resource by spending it on all the things I don’t really find happiness in. I am a creative man, with a trillion creative ideas, and I want to express myself and grow and flourish in an environment that supports me through and through – quirks, weirdness and all. I want to uproot and re-plant myself in the one place I find harmony in; grow myself mentally, spiritually, and emotionally for as long as I can there. I love the island of Kauai more than most people can fathom – it is within my heart, mind, and soul. I am free there – I am truly alive there. I am genuinely happy there, especially when given the chance to be the creative soul I am.
So what stops me? Fear, doubt, the unknown, and the risks involved. So I have started asking myself if the shackles I wear each day of my present life are really better than what is the potential worst-case consequence of changing all of that. And then I think - is it really fair to compare the current state to the worst-case scenario like we do? I mean, in reality, the chances are actually in our favor for things to occur somewhere between the best and worst case scenario, yet we always focus on the worst case. This creates a major dilemma in that it means we’re comparing (and thus making decisions) by paralleling the very worst thing that could happen with the current situation. If I did that with everything, I’d never do anything at all.
Consider this. I could go stay in the office today (blah) and not go home, or I could drive home when I’m usually off the clock. But since the worst case of me leaving is that I could get in a car accident and die, I best just stay at work – forever.
Or consider this. I could tell my wife how much I love her this morning, or I could just not say anything at all (blah). But since the worst case is she might leave me in the long run anyway, I might as well not say anything to begin with. Why ever speak to her again?
The reality is – I’m probably not going to die on my way home from work, even though, yes, there’s a chance of it. And I’m probably going to get home, and my wife still be there, no matter what because we love each other.
So the next time you are facing a major life decision – do this. Take your current situation in its typical form and compare it to the situation you envision by looking at what might happen between the best and worst case scenario as a result of your action or decision. If the median consequence of the choice is in ANY way superior to your current situation – well, then I’ll assume you KNOW what to do! Don’t even spend any more time thinking about it.
Because as life would have it, when you make a choice, and you really believe in it and want it to work out– even the median consequence isn’t the typical result. Normally, it turns out far superior. But we forget that, a lot. Sure, it could all go to hell in a hand basket, but then a meteorite might also hit you today and you die. You can’t live your life making choices with all the “what ifs” out there. You’ll go crazy if you do. Trust me, I know!
So when the odds are clearly in your favor using the equation above - throw your hands up to the universe, let the chips fall where they may, believe in your dream, and then, as Nike says,… “Just Do it…”
I choose that!!