Some say that the most important decision anyone must take is that of buying a house, others say it’s choosing a partner, while others say choosing a career. The truth, in my opinion, is that in most of these things (apart from maybe the house) we don’t really ‘take a decision’ at all, it just seems to happen.
It was my nephew’s 21st. birthday last week and I wanted to give him some advice so I made a quick calculation:
Assuming he finishes full time studies at the age of 25 he will have (God willing) approximately 72,000 working hours to fill until society is likely to suggest that he step aside to make way for someone else. (I told him not to be depressed by this number but to rejoice in the enormity of it).
I suggested that he asks himself the question: How would I like to fill all those hours? (Forget holidays and weekends etc, these have already been deducted). I encouraged him to see filling the hours as a matter of personal choice and not as a ‘career’. Because searching for a job with good pay and promotional prospects is not as important as the content of how he fills his time.
Nothing in our careers is certain and planning ahead based upon one company is too unpredictable, especially these days. As long as my nephew makes choices that utilize his natural gifts and passion, everything he needs will come to him all by itself.
I offered him some key questions to consider:
What do I enjoy doing?
What am I good at?
What can I do that might be useful to others?
How do I want to fill the time ahead of me?
For his birthday present, I bought him a watch, not necessarily to wear (what uncle can possibly know what kind a watch his nephew would like?) but to remind him that when he meets difficult times, when serious matters confront him, to remember that he always has a choice. How he decides to fill the hours ahead is down to him.
Once decided, there is no going back but decisions can always be re-considered, re-evaluated or even re-made. The moment we stop deciding, we become automatons that have little passion, vision or life. And what use is that to anyone?
Every day I decide how best to fill my time. Mostly it is focused around how I can be most useful to others, but not always. Sometimes, just sometimes, I say ‘what the heck’ and take a day off – but that last happened a long time ago, because my ‘off days’ are really just working days filled with other types of work, like writing or mowing the lawn! (Luckily the autumn is here and winter is coming so soon I won’t even need to cut the grass anymore – at least not until the late spring).
Have a good week,