Life is About Choices and the Decisions We Make

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Life is full of different roads. There are long and short roads; smooth and rocky roads; crooked and straight paths. Many roads will come our way as we travel through life. There are roads that lead to fame and fortune on one hand or isolation and poverty on the other. There are also roads to happiness as there are roads to sadness, roads towards victory and joy, and roads leading to defeat and disappointment.  Unfortunately, there is no certainty on whichever road we travel.  It tends to unfold like a mystery. 

Just like any road, there are corners, detours, and crossroads in life. Perhaps the most confusing road that you will encounter is a crossroad. With four directions to choose from and with limited knowledge on where they would go, which road will you take? What is the guarantee that we will choose the right one along the way? Would you take any road, or just stay where you are: in front of a crossroad?

There are no guarantees.

You do not really know where a road will lead you until you take it. There are no guarantees. This is one of the most important things you need to realize about life. Nobody said that choosing to do the right thing all the time will always lead you to happiness. Loving someone with all your heart does not guarantee that it will be returned. Nope. Don't you remember the first heartbreak in elementary school?  According to the American Psychological Association, the marriage divorce rate is 40-50 percent in the United States.   Gaining fame and fortune does not guarantee happiness. Prince and Michael Jackson lives were perfect examples of how fame and fortune don't always lead to happiness. Getting a good letter of recommendation from an influential person to speed up your trip up the career ladder is not always bad, especially if you are highly qualified and competent.  There are too many possible outcomes, which you really cannot control. The only thing you have power over is the decisions that you will make, and how you will act and respond to different situations.

Wrong decisions are always revealed in hindsight.

Had you known that you were making a wrong decision, would you have gone along with it? Perhaps not, why would you choose a certain path when you know it would get you lost? Why make a certain decision if you know from the very beginning that it is not the right one? For instance, who would you have married the person they did knowing that it would end in a bitter divorce? It is usually only after we have decided and reflected on it that we realize its lack of soundness. If the consequences or outcomes are good for you, then you have decided correctly. Otherwise, if our decision was wrong, we must be prepared to endure the consequences.

Take the risk: decide.

You can't go through life playing it safe and expect to get somewhere.  Since life offers no guarantee and you will never know that your decision will be wrong until you have made it, then you might as well take the risk and decide. It is better than attempting to straddle the fence. Although it is true that one wrong turn could get you lost, it could also be that such a turn could be an opportunity for an experience of a lifetime, leading to unforeseen opportunities.  For instance, I took the chance of mailing in an Army ROTC marketing card from a magazine and it resulted in a full three-year scholarship and my being able to pursue my educational goal of earning a doctoral degree only having to pay $150 and not having to take out a student loan.  It is all a matter of perspective. You have the choice between being a lost wanderer or an accidental tourist of life.  But take caution that you do not make decisions carelessly. Taking risks is not about being careless and stupid. Here are some pointers that could help you choose the best option when confronted with life’s crossroads:

·        Get as much information as you can about your situation.

You cannot find the confidence to decide when you know so little about what you are faced with. Just like any good news reporter, ask the 5 W’s: what, who, when, where, and why. What is the situation? Who are the people involved? When did this happen? Where is this leading? Why are you in this situation? These are just some of the possible questions to ask to know more about your situation. This is important because the fear of the unknown can paralyze us. Other times, the reason for indecision is the lack of information about a situation.

·        Identify and create options.

Every situation comes with a set of options. What options do the situation give you? Sometimes the options are few, but sometimes they are numerous. But what do you do when you think that the situation offers no options? This is the time that you create your own. Here is where you must rely on your creative mind. From the most simplistic to the most complicated, entertain all ideas. Do not shoot anything down when an idea comes to your head. Sometimes the most outrageous idea could prove to be the right one in the end. You can ask a friend to help you identify options and even make more options if you encounter some difficulty, but the ultimate decision is up to you in the end.

·        Weigh the pros and cons of every option.

Assess each option by looking at the advantages and disadvantages it offers you. In this way, you get more insights into the possible outcome of each option.

·        Trust yourself and make that decision.

Now that you have assessed your options, it is now time to trust yourself. Remember that there are no guarantees and wrong decisions are always in hindsight.  So, choose… decide… believe that you are choosing the best available option at this point in time.

Once you have made a decision, be ready to face its consequences: good and bad. It may take you to a place of promise or to a land of problems. But the important thing is that you have chosen to live your life instead of remaining a bystander or a rear seat passenger to your own life. Whether it is the right decision or not, only time can tell. But do not second guess your decision whatever the outcome. Instead, learn from it and remember that you always have the chance to make a better decision in the future. Live with knowing you made the best available decision at the time based on available information. 

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