The Paradox of Our Journey

The Morning Bun: Quick blurbs with a fresh take on our young professional lives that we would probably share over mimosas…if it were not a weekday.

Maps.

“Stay Committed In Your Decisions, But Flexible in Your Approach”

That’s exactly what I try to repeat to myself when I flounder around with my career path decisions. I get the quote, I really do, but how does that bring accountability to the wrong decisions we make? Is there a such thing as a wrong decision? How would I know? What’s been rattling my ear lately is the open path in front of me, and all of us for that matter. It’s both a blessing (yay, no more credits to complete!) and a curse (wait, both of those jobs look awesome!).

It’s easy for us to take a job, or move to a city, and go to a brunch — but how do we make sure “right” substitutes for the “a” in all of the above. Quite frankly, this one is tough and I don’t think it’s easy to grasp. On one side of my shoulder a voice (very smooth, articulate, basically the maitre’d at an underground jazz bar) is saying stay committed to your dream destination and follow the journey that takes you there. On the other shoulder, a voice (incredibly shrill, distasteful, basically the lunch lady serving meatloaf) is telling me to pay the bills, build a career for a reputable organization, and the “Ego” for thinking the former can be a destination is an enemy (cc @ryanholiday). Both voices have merit, and even the former voice may ebb and flow with the latter from time to time.

The point is, it’s really difficult to figure out the path for us. Yes, we create our own destiny, and yes, we slowly hone in on the specifics by crossing paths off the list, BUT I think all of us fret about reaching age 30 and looking back on a decade of complete wavering, no foundation, and our overlooked DNA for the wrong paths.

Okay, there is a lot to process there so let me break it down. If we have 100 different route options we think will take us to our destination, how do we figure out the right routes? Sure, we can talk to mentors, research, ask the right questions, yada, yada yada. I get all of that, but what I don’t get is the impending doom for going off track. I take an analyst job to pay the bills tomorrow, I’m miserable in a year, and then I’m another year off the path. Or is off the path just my path? See, that’s where it gets tricky.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m coming to an important crossroads in my own life. I’ve come to certain conclusions recently: what I want to do with my life (you reading my blog is 1/10 of the answer to give you some perspective), how the instant gratification I get in my Netflix selection are not doable career-wise (no choice but to put in the time), and how the world forces don’t give a shit about what I want to do with my life (yes, only I can make it happen), but I’m certainly in flux for how to get there. This “flux” causes me to worry, which I shouldn’t, and overthink, which I also shouldn’t. It takes us back to the microcosm of the entire life trajectory: a path versus the right path. How do you balance opportunities with the path you chose…if the opportunity takes you off path from the goal?

More I see it, it takes me back to the opening quote: develop my destination, but don’t hold onto it if opportunities take me off the beaten path. A new destination may appear, not necessarily less sexy or desirable, just different. At that point, we only one choice: embrace it.

On this bad boy, for my few but voracious readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How do you balance placing trust with the journey versus proactively ripping the journey apart to get what you want (which may push you even further from what you want)?

How do you maintain your destination as the journey ebbs and flows along the way?

How do you stay committed in your decisions, but flexible in your approach?

More on this topic to come…


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