Dec 30, 2020–You know what creates anxiety in many of us?
It’s not the lack of choices.
It’s having too many choices.
I first noticed this in myself as a child trying to figure out my future.
I would watch a basketball game, and decide I wanted to be Larry Bird.
Then it would be football season. In my backyard fantasy league, I was a halfback leading the sweep.
I’d read about John Paul Jones, and make ready to sweep the deck.
Then we started learning about great scientists in school. Why couldn’t I be the one to discover the new element Philipanium, or unravel an unsolvable mathematical conundrum?
Along came The Beatles. Suddenly I was Ringo.
So much of our childhood is spent daydreaming. This is right. This is good. Like trying on outrageous clothes as a teenager, we try on different lifestyles.
But there comes a point in young adulthood when we must stop experimenting and decide how to get some return on all that tuition money. I ended up in teaching, which seemed the most sensible option in keeping my options open.
From my vantage at the front of the classroom, I could see students playing out the same scenarios. They were the ones who were curious about everything, and didn’t know whether to play on the scrimmage line or sing in the chorus line.
But they sat next to kids who focused on their futures to a fault. I taught 4th-graders who were trying to get into an Ivy League school, and 6th-graders who knew they wanted to be an architect.
At first I pitied the youngsters who had their career destinations mapped before they could drive a car. Then I felt sorry for the perpetual wanderer who takes every detour and arrives nowhere.
But now I know there is no “right way.” I believe your life chooses you, not the other way round. If you are an entrepreneur, opportunity leaps out from behind every challenge. If you are a performer, the stage lights find you. If you are a scientist or engineer, impossibilities seduce you.
You cannot help it.
As a wise old friend told me when I grappled with what I thought was a life-changing decision involving career, family, and relocation… “Son,” he said. “When you get to be my age and look back at life, you realize that every decision you made was the right one.”
Said another way: Don’t worry about making the right decision. Make the decision right.
Happy New Year.