By Elaine Cercado
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ~ Albert Einstein
Life is indeed about making choices and moving forward. After choosing our degree and finishing in the university, we begin to build our career and balance that with time for relationships. Then for those of us who get married, we continue to progress our career while we build our family. When we reach some success at work, we try to enjoy a family lifestyle. This could also be the phase when we pursue our dreams, invest for the future, or put up our own businesses. In retirement age, while the choices might not be as vibrant, moving on and keeping the balance are still important.
I’m just halfway through my life (hopefully), but I’ve learned a couple of lessons along life’s journey about making choices, moving forward and keeping the balance. Professional women and working mothers may relate more with my experiences and examples, but I believe these lessons are applicable to all.
Clarity of purpose makes decision making simpler
Purpose here may refer to a life purpose, stated in terms of our personal mission, vision, goals and values. Purpose may also refer to something more specific like our career goals and priorities. Grounding our choices on our purpose and values make things worth it!
Choices include small and big choices – and usually involve two good choices, which makes it more challenging. Which do we value more? Which one can we let go? When we weigh and decide, there might be short-term costs or sacrifices. Yet in the long run, will the rewards outweigh the costs?
When I decided to leave the corporate world, shift industry and put up my own small consultancy, there were short-term implications especially on our family income. Over time though, the positive impacts on my health, our family time and relationships, our community service, and the alignment of my new career with my life purpose far outweighed the short-term costs.
Readiness and commitment for the long-term cost or consequence of a choice is key
Oftentimes, we only see the short-term as it is really difficult to see the long-term consequences of our decisions. This is where the advices of those who’ve traveled the same journey like our parents, elders, role models or career mentors become helpful. We may also research more about our choices and use analytical tools and methods to predict probable future outcomes. At the end of the day, we need to trust our own instincts and judgment, and be open and ready with whatever the consequences and possibilities are. Regrets and frustrations have to be overcome and addressed right away.
My husband and I took international assignments in our 20’s, without really knowing where it would lead our family. It was extremely difficult in our first two and half years after we relocated. Today, I could say that this was a life-altering decision that has led our family to Singapore, to go into consultancy, and recently into a new business venture. 17 years have passed since our first international assignments, and I’m glad that we kept moving on during the difficult initial years. By moving forward, we eventually found our balance and enjoyed a steady ride in our journey.
We all face and make small or big choices in life. Our choices lead us to the next path, which might not initially turn out as we imagine it. Grounding our choices on our purpose, and being ready and committed for the long haul will help keep the balance and keep moving forward. If you have a key lesson from making life choices and moving forward, do share here.
Note: This article was also published in LinkedIn.