What follows is part II of a multi-part article. If you’d prefer to start with part I, click here: Focusing on What You Love (Part I)
Let’s take a phrase from Part I and add to it.
While you can do anything,
you can’t do everything,
and you can’t do nothing.
It’s not that you shouldn’t do nothing, you can’t. It’s physically impossible. At every moment of every day, you’re doing something, even if it’s only breathing. What’s more, whatever you’re doing has consequences. It’s like dropping a stone in a pond of water, the consequences ripple outward and reflect back, sometimes in complex ways. Ok, that makes sense. But so what?
Sometimes, when there’s a choice to make, we try to avoid it. Borrowing Robert Frost’s imagery … “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, we’re standing at the crossroads and looking down the two roads. But in our little story here, the choice makes us uncomfortable. Let’s talk about why they’re uncomfortable and what we try to do about it.
The choice could be uncomfortable because:
- Both options are equally wonderful. Whatever we choose, we’re going to miss out on something.
- Both options are equally bad. Whatever we choose, we’re going to end up with something we don’t want.
- One or both options are unknowable to some degree. Whatever we choose, we’re not sure whether it was the better or worse choice.
We could spend lots of time exploring those, but for right now, let’s look at how we respond to the discomfort. In general, there are two options: to avoid or to engage.
Avoiding could look like wringing our hands anxiously and dithering. Or it could look like ignoring the whole thing and anesthetizing ourselves with entertainment, food, drink, people, or any number of things. While we’re doing that, life is moving on. Other people are taking action. For example, if we’re offered two jobs, the employer could get tired of waiting for us and offer the job to someone else. In any case, one of the two roads is becoming more likely and the other is becoming less likely. Eventually, only one road will be left and we’ll be on it. Like it or not.
So there you have it. Avoiding is actually choosing to let someone else decide.
On the other hand, we can engage and make the choice ourselves. We probably won’t be perfect at it, but, overall, our choices are likely to be better for us than someone else’s.
In either case, we have to live out the consequences.
What road will you choose?
On to Part III: Focusing on What You Love (Part III)