Edging into my late 20s, I am increasingly aware of just how important it is to weigh my options. I’ve learned that each road — those I have traveled and those I have abandoned — bore consequences, and no astrological horoscope, fortune cookie or Magic 8 Ball has ever been able to help me determine which choice would be best.
I realized that ultimately, all decisions of substance should be made after asking a vital question: Does the potential reward of a good choice outweigh the possible retribution of a bad one?
Will what you decide to do today benefit you tomorrow? And if it won’t, will you regret it? At the end of the day, all you have to know is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze.
It’s important to live in the moment — to recklessly search for what feels good and worry about the mess later. Unfortunately, that isn’t always wise when dealing with matters of the heart. Relationships — both platonic and romantic — require a great deal of compromise, commitment and trust. The best of friends, lovers and confidants are a prize granted only to those who are willing to work.
It’s the expendable friendships, one-night stands and forgettable encounters that come easily. Upon aging, you’ll likely find that the bonds you preserve define who you are. Make sure it is worth the time and attention you’re investing.
Whether you’re trading stocks or flipping burgers, make sure that what you’re doing for a living is in some way helpful for you. While sometimes small, your dreams are never insignificant. What you do for a living must make you a living, but it should also serve as a foundation for your future. Are the long hours you’re logging laying the groundwork for your intended career?
If not, you may want to reconsider your options. Running errands may lead to an ideal job, and while it’s never easy to start at the bottom, try and hang in there. Keep in mind that Jennifer Lopez was once a Fly Girl and Bill Gates spent his early professional years in a dirty garage. A decent nine-to-five with benefits may look good on paper, but if your dream is to join the circus, then get an internship cleaning that tight-rope, and do it with pride.
They say you can never be too rich or too thin. Whether it’s flashy jewelry, designer clothing or just a lavish brunch, we all enjoy a good hedonistic thrill every now and then. Many of us spend a significant amount of our money on our appearances, and rightfully so. It’s easy to assume that just looking the part could land you in a better place, but consider the cost.
While foreign cars and expensive watches may excite you, the pleasure is often short-lived. Contemplate some alternatives when trying to better yourself. Library cards and museum passes are free.
We all make them; I myself make at least one each day. Some mistakes are small, like being late on a payment or sleeping through an alarm. Other mistakes are harder to repair, like breaking a heart or compromising trust. No matter the circumstance, it matters most that we learn from the mistakes. We’ve all stayed up too late, partied too long and crashed too hard.
If I had a nickel for every time I spent the night drunk-texting an ex, I may just pay my rent on time. But I’ve come to learn there’s no sense blaming oneself; tumbling before learning to balance is only natural. I can merely suggest that when given the opportunity to measure your options, do your best to make choices that will make you proud. You won’t forever be old enough to know better but young enough to do it anyway.
I challenge you to consider each part of your life — your job, your friends and your habits. Take a good look at where you’re focusing your energy and how you’re spending your time. If you find that there is something or someone who is no longer bettering you, chances are, you’ll be best off without it.
Photo credit: Tatyana Tomsickova