by Z.S. Roe //
Decision making – there’s no escaping it.
Should I take the job or should I not take the job? Should I have kids or should I spend my time and money on myself? Should I buy a house or rent an apartment? Should I make a cup of tea now or wait until lunch?
Throughout each day we make countless decisions. In most instances, those decisions are easily made with almost no thought at all, such as the tea example (and, yes, I think I’ll wait until lunch).
Every now and then, however, Big Life Decisions (or BLDs for you corporate folks) are forced upon us, sometimes in moments of crisis and other times in moments of seeming normality. An old joke suggests that when you make plans, God laughs. God’s apparent mean-spiritedness aside, the joke makes a depressing but accurate observation: there are no guarantees in life.
Still, we make plans anyway because it’s what we do. And when we fall off the horse (or the horse just dies as we’re riding it), we’re often advised to get back on – try and try again, as they say. Sometimes, though, we feel the need to trade in our (possibly dead) horse for … well, maybe a Shetland pony, telling ourselves that, “Hey, we only live once, so why not try and better ourselves?”
Frequent readers of this blog will know that the glass company I worked for recently laid off all of its employees and closed its doors for good. Hello unemployment line.
With a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Bachelor of Education, you’d think glass work would be the last thing I’d choose as a career. And you’d be right. But, after not being able to find work as a teacher and needing some kind of job to pay the bills, I took the only job I could get: I got a job as a full time glass cutter.
But now I’m back where I started: with no job and two dusty university degrees packed away in a box somewhere at my parent’s house. Moving forward, however, I’ve decided to place emphasis on my writing skill and experience (limited at this point though it is) and leave the glass industry behind me.
It’s a big decision (a BLD, if you will) and one I’ve not made lightly.
In making this decision, I’ve sought the advice of family and friends, and all of it has been greatly appreciated. What’s resonated most with me was an analogy my dad made. In 1519, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico with six-hundred men and the hope that he might be the one to finally conquer the Yucatan Peninsula, despite having arrived with fewer men and resources than previous aspiring conquerors. And he succeeded, too. But how did Cortés inspire such success in the men under his command? He did so by ordering them to burn their boats after landing. And so, having to choose between either fighting and winning or dying, they fought and won.
Having recounted this story to me, my dad then said: “Maybe it’s time for you to burn your boat.”
Hearing this, I was surprised to feel a very sudden and strong relief. Maybe I can make a career change, I thought. Maybe I can better myself.
And that’s what I’m doing. Mind you, at the moment it feels like I’m still on the beach watching my boat sink and wondering if it was such a good idea to light the bugger on fire after all.
Only time will tell, I suppose.
My question to you: How do you make your Big Life Decisions?
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