A friend recently told me that the challenge is not in making a decision, but rather in making that decision actually be realized. How many times have we stood in the same place far too long, just hoping for a sign with a nod of approval to proceed in one direction or another? Far too frequently, unfortunately. And as the wise John Lennon preached, "Life is what happens when you are too busy making plans." It's in the planning that we somehow overlook the doing, the making, the seeing, the experiencing - the actual living. It's not the indecision in finding an optimal solution, regardless of whether it is ideal. It's more the fear of leaving the secure and the familiar for a land of unknowns.
We're primed at an early age to calculate, to know what we want to do the second we can string words together into a coherent sentence. But I always felt many of those who knew they "wanted" to be a lawyer, doctor, dentist, or something else that requires tremendous foresight at such a young age, were just prodded in that professional track because of prestige or tradition. Peer pressure can be a far more powerful and dangerous thing when the wrong motivations permeate thought processes.
For the longest time, I thought I knew my dream job but it wasn't until I got to test drive it that I realized I needed to wake up. It was far from heaven. So far in fact that now I'm back to square one, ashamed to say I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. But after informational interviews with hundreds of people in various roles in various industries, I have come to terms with my ambiguity. Those most successful didn't have a plan logged step-by-step but instead let intuition and opportunity lead the way. It's not luck but strategic placement - and watchful eyes - that make the unforeseeable suddenly seem clear.
They knew the bare minimum - they liked (fill in the blank with any topic), planning events, collaborating with others, telling stories, managing finances, discussing current events. But they didn't know then what that translated to in the professional / corporate world. I highly doubt anyone went to college for a history degree specializing in World War II warfare with the intent to program a TV guide for a major network.
You could speak to a million people and get a million different perspectives. To every question asked, you would receive a million different answers. There's never one and only one correct answer. You could plug in all suggestions into an Excel formula and it'll spit out some statistical pattern but not a fail-proof solution. And that's daunting considering the sample size.
Some people take the more obvious and methodical route while others carve out a more circuitous and chiefly unique path. The twists and turns may not seem direct but each curve provides an entirely new journey in which you learn from experiences. Those ultimately provide different interpretations and reactions that are specific to you and your needs.
It's not a lack of focus, it's a general appreciation for learning and passion for growth. I far more respect those who know their power to be more than something previously defined. I want to do something that I know doesn't exist yet. Why wait for someone to leave before you can fill their shoes? You'll always be compared to the ones before you. You have different skills, experiences, backgrounds, contacts, approaches and opinions that allow you to bring something entirely new to the table.
It's always refreshing to speak to people who value the present over the future. They would rather live paycheck-to-paycheck in order to really be rewarded in life altering interactions and memories - experiences that revolutionize how you view the world and invigorate you in such a way that you're motivated to change the world - someway, somehow.
Those people are not afraid of uncertainty nor do they fear consequence. Maybe that's reckless or stupidly courageous, but I envy them for their strength to overcome what it is that often paralyzes others from moving forward, from tackling those goals that just seem so unrealistic, from acknowledging that failure often begets success. Nobody ever learned from doing it right the first time. Upsets make eventual triumphs so much sweeter. So without having taken the first drive, why assume you'll automatically drown? To live life upstream, you must keep swimming.
And with that, I recently misused a metaphor for the sake of proving a different point - I feel like a sheep, albeit a black sheep, but a sheep nonetheless. I don't cause disgrace upon my family but rather reflect an unusual breed within a common species that sticks out for reasons beyond control, misunderstood by my peers but no way willing to be sheered of the qualities that define me.