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choosing a direction in life

Updated on September 24, 2016

To many paths

The world we live in is filled with choice. We can choose where we want to work, who we want to be friends with, where we want to live, what interests we want to pursue, and so forth. The options presented to us are almost limitless. And therefore it's very easy to fall into the trap of trying to do more than we have time for, can afford or have energy to do.

We see all of these options around us that we want to experience, but we can't choose. So instead of choosing we try to do the impossible, we try to do all of it. And this is, in a way, the basis of the consumer society we live in. Because we can't do everything, we start to collect all the things we haven't got time for either physically, in the form of products we buy, or mentally, in the form of plans, subscriptions, commitments to ourselves and others and so forth.

And as we live our lives, all of these things start to accumulate until our lives are consumed buy all the different paths we have chosen to take but haven't been able to start on jet. And we allow all of these things that we plan to do, but witch actually isn't a part of the lives we live, to define us. We keep telling ourselves that they are part of us and we keep making more plans related to them. Slowly but steadily, we are building a mountain of expectations about our own lives that are so high, we never stand a chance of ever getting anywhere near the top.

Why is this bad for us

The problem with this ever growing mountain of plans and unfinished projects, is that it makes our lives seem less successful and satisfying than they should. Our lives may be filled with accomplishments and exiting experiences, but compared to all the things we haven't done jet, these "insignificant events" in our lives can seem very small. The amount of satisfaction we feel about our lives is to a great extent based upon what we expect our lives to be. And when what we have doesn't live up to the expectation we have, it can make us dissatisfied and unhappy.

And if the mountain grows to large, not only can it create unhappiness, but it can also create real problems in our lives. We can get monetary problems because we buy more than we can afford. We can get health problems because we don't have enough time to sleep, make proper meals and take care of our basic needs. And we can fall into a state where just planning all the things we want to do, take up so much of our time that we no longer have any time left to live our actual lives. Trying to follow every path, can consume us, drain our lives of all content, and make everything seem meaningless.

How to choose a path

Obviously, we can't follow every path. So we need to do the hard thing, and choose one path to follow, instead of all of them. The first step towards doing this, is to look at what paths you are currently on or want to believe you are on. Most likely there is a large number of paths that no longer fit in to you life. Old hobbies that you haven't got the time for. Things you collect because you used to have an interest in them at some point but now only do it out of habit without really understanding why. And old plans and commitments that no longer seem like something you actually want to do or can do.

The first and easiest thing to do when trying to work towards choosing a path, is to just get rid of all of these things from your past that are trying to tell you how to live your life in the present. The important thing to ask yourself when getting rid of things from your past, is simply whether they are a part of your present in any positive way. If they are not, then they are just old parts of your life that is ,needlessly, taking up either mental space, physical space or both. Giving up on these things can feel hard because you are letting go of a part of what you see or used to see as yourself, but once you let go, it feels like a relief and it gives you more space to be who you want to be in the present.

When you have sorted out all the elements from your past, however, you are left with your present that may also contain a number of paths going in different directions. And the important thing to realize her is that you are sabotaging all of these paths when you are trying to do more at the same time than is actually possible.

The difficult aspect of choosing paths in the present, that is less of a problem when dealing with baggage from the past, is that all of the paths may be paths you want to follow and things you like do do. So the question is no longer whether or not you like something or want to do something. The question is what you want to do the most. You actually need to make a choice about following one path and not following the rest of them.

We do this all the time whit things we face in the present moment. In the present we can only be in one place at any given time. And we can do one thing at the time. In the present moment, we always have to pick one path regardless. Jet when it comes to thinking about the future, we seem to forget this and we fool ourselves into thinking that we can exist in several paths at once.

So in a sense the clue to choosing a path to follow is to make the decision in the present and not in the future. You need to choose what path you are currently on and have a clear idea about where that path is leading you. And you need to realize that every time you change that path it will lead you somewhere else. And each time you do this, you need to decide whether your new destination makes it worthwhile to give up on your current destination. So the point here is not to pick a path and stick with that for life. The point is to always be on a single path that you can change along the way.

When there is only one path to follow life becomes easier and you don't need to spend so much time worrying about what to do next, because you have already decided, and therefor can spend your time enjoying life instead.


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