A coworker ran up to me in the parking lot in a panic. I’ve been helping her prepare for a job interview for a new position with our company. She wanted my advice on how to approach a sensitive question.
A friend I worked with years ago has been considering a career switch. He’s unhappy in his job and is close to quitting and going into business for himself. Fortunately he’s in the financial position to make the move, but wants to be sure before he makes the jump. Another friend is struggling with what to do with a sick parent, whether a visiting nurse will be enough or if she should consider admitting her to a nursing home.
To top it off, my 17-year-old son and many of his friends are thinking about their options next year. He’s applied and been accepted to several colleges, but also is thinking about serving in the armed forces.
It must be that time of year. I feel like everyone I’ve come across lately is burdened down by a challenging decision related to career, college or the future.
I saw the struggle in my friend’s eyes, the one considering a career switch. What should he do? How will he know that he’s making the right decision? I see it in my son’s eyes. I wish I could make the decision for him, but I can’t. He’s got to make up his own mind and follow his heart. Instead, I keep coming back to something a boss told me years ago when I was trying to make a big decision in my own life: Life is what you make it.
You make the best decisions you have with the information you have at the time. Yes, you always want more data and assurances. You want to know exactly how everything is going to work out in advance. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood,
And looked down as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Jumping in with my eyes closed
Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. You might fall. You might make a mistake, but you have look yourself in the mirror.
When I told my friend what my former boss told me, he thanked me. I told him nothing new, nothing that he hadn’t heard before, nothing that he didn’t already tell himself, but he was still glad to hear it from me. My family . . . how did they react when I mentioned the advice in reference to several challenges we face. They, of course, rolled their eyes.
Oh well, c’est la vie.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Excerpt from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.