How many times have you said or heard, “I’m keeping my options open”? Keeping your options open is code for “I cannot or will not decide”. It is a way of standing still and not making progress. When we don’t make a choice, we divide our energy across all the potential choices which means we can try to spread ourselves too thinly and end up fatigued and burnt out. A theory of life – you will not get out of this life alive or without regret. Sometimes we make good choices, sometimes we make bad choices but in all things we must try to keep moving forward to have a satisfying life. To keep moving forward, we have to overcome our fear of making a decision when it’s needed. There are sometimes when it is good to wait for a decision but when we sense we are stuck in a loop, we have to be aware enough to take a leap of faith and make a decision. Call it a temporary decision if you have to but make a choice and move yourself forward. Have you ever had a day off and procrastinated so long about what to do that you ended up doing nothing? Not making a choice is kind of making a choice because you cannot stop the clock. Life will not be 100% perfect – be willing to take risks and make a choice. Take a road and see where it leads. Live is a journey not a destination – in this life we never arrive, we never finish, and we never do everything.
The fact that we can’t do everything is a difficult thing to accept. We all want to have every opportunity for a life full of interesting and diverse experiences. But the reality is that we are finite beings with a finite amount of time and resources. In addition to trying to add variety to our life experience, we can also choose to add depth to our life experience. This means standing still in a single experience and trying to get the most out of it. So, for example, instead of travelling to 100 different cities in the world, stay in one city and explore all its corners and secrets. This is true for things like travel but also for relationships and jobs. If we are bored then we are not working hard enough to make the most of our life experience. Life does not come to you. You have to go out and find it and make it happen. Life means work. There is no other option. If you can’t decide what to do next, then you have to do the work. You have to take the time to list all the options and work through them to work out which way to go next. This includes listing logical things like pros and cons but it also means taking the time to think about how you feel about each option. Imagine it in your head – does it make you happy, excited or sad, anxious? All these are clues to how to move forward. Come up with a way of scoring all these variables and then make a decision.
The fact that life is work does not mean that we need to be hustling 24×7 to DO things. We don’t always need to have a fully fleshed out plan for our goals and how we will achieve them. It is good to have an idea of where you are going for sure but even just figuring out the next step is an achievement. SO MANY people get stuck in a rut, sitting on the sofa and not doing anything. And this is so easy to do in our modern world which makes it very tempting and easy to become lazy. Our entire survival instinct is to do as little as possible for the most amount of reward. But the reality is that our entire lives are now so rich because of the advances of our civilisation that this biological imperative is now more of a hindrance rather than a help to us. This is why so many of us are on diets, spending our time at a gym, sitting in offices to earn money, and spending all that money on stuff that increases our comfort. Despite all of these achievements, we are still unhappy and willing to complain about what life isn’t bringing us. This is madness.
If life isn’t what you want, you have two options: you can change what you want or change what you are doing to get what you want. To continue to follow an unsuccessful strategy in order to achieve results that are different from what you are getting will drive you to burn out or worse. We have to have enough self awareness to understand that when we are experiencing negative emotions in relation to our circumstances that we have to take action. This does not necessarily mean something major – it might just be reading an article to help us focus our attitude or changing some of the things we use our time to do. It means being aware of ourselves and how we are doing in life and taking action when it is not ok. If we are complaining, not taking care of ourselves, overeating, working too hard, or any other negative actions or emotions, then we have to realise that we are responsible for our life experience and we must DO something about it. Take a shower, eat a healthy meal, get some more sleep, spend more time with loved ones, get that bit of work done, clear out that pile in the corner of the room, or WHATEVER it is that will address that complaint or that bad feeling. Don’t sit on the sofa and sulk – GO DO SOMETHING healthy and productive to make yourself feel better.
You are valuable as a person and there are people that love you. Each person is coping with at least having to look after their own needs. The fact that someone else does not always see you are hurting or unhappy does not mean they don’t care. If you are feeling alone in your pain, then speak to someone and ask for help. But realise that ultimately we are the main source of our own happiness. Let me repeat that: You are the main source of your own happiness. Do not blame other people for your unhappiness. Make a choice, and do something healthy and positive that will make you feel better. Take a few minutes right now, find a place where you can be alone. Find a comfortable place to sit or stand. Try to be comfortable and supported by a chair, a bench, a wall. Clear your mind – if you can’t clear your mind, then make a list and set it aside. Find a place of calm in your mind and heart. BREATHE. Feel the air enter and leave your lungs. Focus on taking deep breaths – slowly as if you were letting the doctor listen to your lungs. Stay here for a few minutes. Gather yourself into a place of peace and comfort. You are enough just as you exist. You just have to BE.
When you are ready, you can begin to think about what is the next step to make yourself feel better. What can YOU do to make yourself feel better. Choose something that is healthy, positive, productive and within your power, time, and resources. There is definitely something you can do, you just need to find it and decide.