The Challenge of Choices

europe Dec 15, 2019

I've loved living in Lisbon, Portugal for the month of December in my 10th month of working and living abroad.  As my Remote Year friends and I start to consider and share ideas about our post-Remote Year life (only ~8 weeks away!), we are feeling both excited and anxious. 

The questions coming up are: What tweaks should we make to our careers?  Where do we want to live?  How do we want to approach our lives differently after this transformational experience?

Deciding the next steps that are right for me, instead of what’s right, period, is challenging. With each person sharing their own desires, opinions, and decisions, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of options.  I recognize what a privilege it is to have the resources and exposure to people that allow me to see such a variety of examples of what's possible.

If you're also feeling overwhelmed about the changes or choices you want to make in 2020, you’re not alone. It’s a natural response.  We want to make the "right" choices.

 It's important to remember that you should make the “right” choice not because it’s the right choice for others, not because it’s the expected choice, the easiest one, or the path of least resistance. The "right" choice is the one that feels most true to who you are and what you desire.

Sometimes we’re not as in tune as we would like to be with what we want, and so we look for guidance, examples, and sometimes, even someone to tell us what to do.

We think we want too much, unattainable things, things that seem self-serving, or, dare I say, selfish. 

Last year at this time I wanted to travel the world while continuing to do my job remotely. Who am I to dream so big?  Who am I to think I could have that? These are questions that I asked myself and I know they are questions that others thought about my desires.  And here I am, 10 months into living that dream. :)

Sometimes it’s not that we don’t know what we want, it’s that we don’t want to make a decision and then regret it. 

I have news for you - the only way to know if a path is for you or not is to try it. We learn through action, not through thinking.  And action doesn't always require an upheaval of our lives. 

Action can be taken in baby steps like eating one vegan meal per day before you decide to become fully vegan or working remotely one day per week before you do it full-time.

When you convince yourself that you don’t know what you want, you disempower yourself.  You tell yourself that you don’t need to take action or be brave because you’re not sure yet. You stay safe. You play small. You wait for someone else to make a decision or tell you what to do so that you don’t have to.

You ask for advice, and as much as your loved ones want to give you advice based on what’s best for you, it's still based on their experiences and how they see the world.  Their perspectives may or may not be similar to yours.

Even if you don't know the details of what you want in 2020, there are things you know for sure. They might not be as specific as you want them to be yet but, I promise you, there are things you do know with certainty.

A great way to get clarity on what you do know is to write whatever it is you know for sure regarding a specific choice you're considering or within a certain part of your life (i.e work, relationship, home, health, family, etc.). I encourage you to write as many sentences as you can, starting with “I know for sure that…” regarding different areas of your life.

Start now by choosing one topic and then keep writing until you get to 25 sentences. What do you start to observe?

Here’s my example regarding my work:

  • I know for sure that I like the strategic parts of my work more than the operational components.
  • I know for sure that I value freedom and flexibility in my work location.
  • I know for sure that I like to facilitate workshops and speak in front of a big audience.
  • I know for sure that I don’t like doing data analysis.
  • I know for sure that I don’t want to work from home by myself because I like to be around people.
  • I know for sure that I want to work for a mission-driven organization.

Now you give it a shot.  It's much more empowering to get into a mindset of what you know for sure versus harping on what you don't know.  As you focus on what you know, you will gain more and more clarity to help you make your choices for 2020!

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