- Do whatever it is you’ve been doing
- Do something/anything different..
I think it boils down, in the end, to how you feel about the life you’re living. If you’re happy, really happy with your life, job, relationship, lifestyle, etc… then the first choice is most likely going to be the one for you.
On the other hand, if you’ve got areas of your life that you’re not happy with, you need to make a choice from the possibilities presented by choice number two.
That’s where things begin to get complicated, for me anyway.
The “something different” options are not often clear, and even if they are clear, they’re not always easy. I know that when it became clear to me that I was not happy in my first marriage, I avoided the clear choice of leaving, for many years. Instead I tried everything I could think of to try and regain that original happiness I’d felt.
I filled my life with all sorts of ‘other things’, tried to focus on what was right instead of what was wrong and spent a year talking with a therapist about ways to work through what I was feeling. I even switched jobs in hopes that change would allow me to get enough stress relief and see it wasn’t the marriage, but the job that had me feeling so bad.
In the end though I saw that neither I, nor my wife, were really ‘happy’ any longer.
I made the choice to separate and get divorced.
It remains one of the more difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I remember thinking, here I am, late forties, balding, a bit overweight and haven’t dated in well over 20 years… this is not going to be a very ‘fun-filled’ adventure. I knew though, that having the chance to find the kind of relationship I knew I wanted, was better than standing still.
Regardless of knowing, staying put sure as hell felt a lot more comfortable than not.
Those of you who are regular readers know that eventually, that decision led to my meeting and marrying Maryan. We have the kind of relationship I was hoping to find. It’s not perfect, everyday, but we interact in ways I’d only dreamed were possible before, so it’s certainly perfect to me!
I’ve also made a lot of choices over the years, based on what I’d call “inadequate” information. Where the decision I made, had I actually had all the information, would most likely have been different. I think those are the decisions, that sometimes come back to ‘haunt’ us (or me at least). Where we find ourselves second guessing our decision, start thinking of what ‘might have been’ if we made our choice with all of that information at our disposal.
That my friends, is an exercise in futility, one destined to be ‘crazy making’. We can’t ever go back, to that exact spot in time, armed with that (what we now know to be) exact information and redo the decision process. Life just does not work that way. I’m not even sure I’d like it, if it were that way.
Life is fluid, a continuum, billions of conditions changing every nanosecond of every day.
I’ve probably made 1,000 ‘bad’ decisions, for every ‘good’ one. Each one though, I made thinking it was a good one. Well, ok, I’ve made some (very few fortunately) knowing they were bad, but even those I thought I’d at least enjoy part of the outcome! The rest where based on what I knew at the time, and believed would bring me the outcome I wanted.
Sometimes, I got exactly the outcome I’d been hoping for, and when I got it, found it was far different than I’d envisioned it to be. Others, the decision got me nowhere close to where I thought it would take me. In each case though, I did what we all do (or should do), I simply decided to make another choice, hoping this time I’d get closer to where I really wanted to be.
What’s the point of this ramble?
The point is, we always have choices. Sometimes they’re not very clear, and often they’re very difficult, sometimes feeling nearly impossible, but they’re always there.
It’s always the same two I mentioned earlier, do nothing different, or do something different.
If you do nothing different, you’ll most likely continue getting what you’ve always gotten. You’ll be in the same career, relationship, house etc… and if you’re happy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If, on the other hand, you’re like me, and you’ve always got another dream or two waiting for you to explore them, you’ll have to make a choice to start exploring, or not. To me, often times that’s the difficult part, finding a way, to explore the new dream (or dreams) without losing any of the stuff that makes me really happy today.
You see if I went off to pursue one of my dreams, and achieving it cost me my relationship with Maryan, the price of that decision and achievement would just be too high for me to justify.
I’d give up a lot for a dream I wanted, money, stability, all sorts of material possessions. I know that, because I’ve done it, and several times in my life. I’ve spent every dollar I earned, and every penny I’d saved, sold off everything I could sell, in pursuit of a dream, and ended up without the stuff, and without the dream.
I eventually got more stuff, saved more money, and even though I never got exactly where I’d intended to go, I have the memories of the effort. I remember the ‘rush’ of jumping headlong into (for me) uncharted territory, the thrills at each little advance, the single-mindedness of effort and pure, simple joy of believing in the possibility.
These days, as I’ve begun for the first time to ponder retirement and especially our financial needs in retirement, I’ve found myself wondering (at times) if those choices were wise. If I wouldn’t have been far better served saving the money, focusing on ‘one’ career instead of trying out nearly a dozen and now being at this particular place in time with a hefty ‘nest egg’ of retirement funds.
In the final analysis, I end up saying “No”, that even if I end up living a life (in retirement) where I have to take a job as a Wal-Mart greeter to make ends meet, I’ll be much richer in that life, with the memories of all I've done. I believe those memories will make my life far richer than it ever could have been simply because I'd be able to sit in an easy chair and know I had no money worries.
Rich Denny’s Mom said to me once, while I was still in my early 20’s, “you just do what you want to do, don’t you?”… I remember thinking for just a minute, about what she’d said, and responded with a “Yeah, I guess I do”. I recall she smiled a little, and added, “Good, if you continue to do that, you’ll never have regrets”.
I’ve sort of continued to do that, more often than not, since then.
Sure, I’ve made compromises, continued to work in jobs I didn’t really even like any more, simply because the money was good. Taken the easy road a time or two, simply because I didn’t have the energy (at the time) to venture down a rougher road. Chose to stay put in a place, when I should have moved on, because the unknown scared me more than standing still.
When all is said and done, we make our choices and live with the results. The beauty of life is, if we don’t like the result, we get to make another choice! We can’t go back, and change the last one, but we can make another and alter our path once again.
So, do you have regrets? Do you still struggle with past decisions? Or, do you let them go, make new choices and move on? How do you think your ‘method’ is working for you so far?
Hope y’all are having a great Sunday. Me, I’m going out in the shop and get reacquainted with the truck project!!
Technorati Tags: Choices - Life - Decisions