Imagine someone comes to you in your early twenties and presents to you two different options: You can go down road #1, which will provide stability, a safe career, and you will find success earlier than many do in life.
Or, you can go down road #2, which is longer, sluggish, and more frustrating earlier, but you will find yourself and who you are — in a more impactful way — which will lead you to discover your real purpose in life through the process.
Which road do you take? Or, for many of you, which path did you take?
I think all of us would agree that we want and desire success in life. And while there are different degrees of success, most of us would put financial success at the top of that list. That’s not greed or misguided. We all want to be comfortable financially — no matter our spending habits.
I think — if we are honest, myself included — most of us would choose the 1st road, especially when asked at the onset of our journey in life. The luxury of something guaranteed to us financially, in our early twenties is beyond fantastic; it’s a gift. A gift that very few, if any, are guaranteed. So, to take this gift at 22 and be guaranteed an excellent job, career path, financial security, and lifestyle — I think we can all agree, that’s what we would choose.
It would take an unusual amount of wisdom for that age, to see that the second road is potentially more appealing to our future. Even so, some people may not see the 2nd road as something worth pursuing in life. The attraction of starting early, down the path of building wealth, at such an early stage in life, is undoubtedly something hard to turn down.
Unfortunately, these two hypothetical situations are just that.
Or are they?
Not everyone will ever have to face this question. Consider those individuals lucky, fortunate, or maybe unfortunate; however, you see it.
Some of you will face a much more challenging question. One that will seem innocent at first, but slowly creep in your thoughts and life. You may choose to ignore, but its persistence will wear you down, and you’ll soon see the reason why.
You’ll tell yourself it’s just a ‘pipe dream,’ that dreams are foolish, and this one will pass, just like before. You’ll remind yourself that you aren’t a child anymore, and those dream jobs of your childhood aren’t relevant anymore and that you are a grown-up. Or, you’ll see yourself as lazy, worthless, or unmotivated. You’ll begin to believe you lack ambition, confidence, and the ability to stick with a goal. Others will undoubtedly think these things about you. All the while, you’ll continue to have visions of what’s possible and achievable if you are willing to allow yourself to dream.
You’ll try and ignore it.
You’ll try your best.
But it just won’t go away.
As you’ll find out, in time, it’s not supposed to go away; it’s not supposed to be forgotten or ignored.
On the one hand, you could blaze down the trail that seems most convenient, comfortable, and steady. You would have great potential for above-average earnings by just showing up and staying the course — possibly enjoying what you do, but not necessarily. Spend your days working in a process that you may or may not like, experience things you may or may not enjoy.
Or, you could choose to spend your days doing something you love and putting your heart and soul into it. While there may not be any financial guarantees on the front end, there is significant trust in knowing that you’re doing what you are supposed to be doing, because you are working on something that you felt was a calling, not a job.
As Phil Knight explains in his beautiful memoir, “If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”
It’s not an easy choice. It’s quite tricky. Factor in family responsibilities, lifestyles, and age — you may find yourself at a loss of how to even consider something so drastic, so, might I say, irrational.
It’s a choice that many of us are forced to make, at some point in our life — whether we realize it or not. Add this to a long list of incredibly difficult decisions that we make throughout a lifetime, if we are lucky enough to get the opportunity.
I’m not here to debate for one side or the other. I’m merely presenting the two cases. It’s a choice that we must make without influence, nor ignore. There is no right or wrong. It’s a question of the soul. Even more so, it’s a question of fear.
Which life are you more fearful of living? Or, shall we say, which life are you more afraid of not living? Which experience are you willing to live with as you grow older? Which path will you be able to say, ‘I went for it, with no regrets.’
As I said, there are no wrong or right answers.
Whatever path you chose, have chosen, or decide to choose, understand that it’s not a matter of where you end up. It’s not about the results or the end product — that will work itself out. There is no need to worry or pressure ourselves about those details. Choosing the right path for you will take care of the small stuff. Don’t bother yourself with those tiny details.
No, this choice is much deeper and more meaningful than just some results — it’s a choice about your life and who you are and who you will become, and remember, we are always and never stop becoming. It’s about how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and the experiences that you get to experience. It’s about the journey. It’s about the process.
It is the process.
Whichever path you choose, you still have the choice to make the best of that path, to choose happiness, and to find peace within. Who you are and the joy you want to have in your life will never be decided merely by one choice. There are so many stops along the journey that afford us the luxury of choosing, to be happy, at peace, and fulfilled.
That said, this is still a critical choice in life. It’s not a choice that you should handle lightly or one that we can ignore.
It’s a choice that we have to make. It’s a choice that will find us, and it will demand of us an answer.
When it does, what will you choose? Will you be honest with yourself, and will you be willing to be brave and courageous in this choice?
As I said, it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s complex. It has varying shades of grey.
Whatever you choose, be real and be honest. Trust your instinct. Listen to that voice inside you, and don’t ignore the dreams that play out in your head. That vision, that feeling within you, was given to you by something far more powerful than anything here on earth.
It’s real. It matters.
Be brave enough to listen and not ignore. Be courageous enough to believe and not be skeptical.
Faith in yourself. And a belief in something more significant. Faith in whatever it is you may believe in, but whatever you do, have faith in something bigger than what you can see or touch.
I’ll say it one more time.
It will not be an easy decision.
Once you do make that decision, then the work begins — the real work.
The work that matters.
Choose wisely. Be brave.