Make or break moments. Sounds quite heavy and, in fact, most often their impact is. They happen all the time but we don’t always realize that they are there until we look back in retrospect. They are the crossroads of life; areas where we can choose to turn left or right. The choices we make in these moments set the standard for our lives. They pave the way for our future.
In our life times we are faced with countless decisions that we need to make. Some more serious and with heavier consequences than others. In this instance, I am focusing on the opportunities that present themselves to us and how we choose to respond. This does not include the fundamental decisions we make to meet our basic needs.
Instead, I want to highlight the little make or break moments we experience everyday. Big decisions have big and instant impacts on our lives. But the small ones also add up to a substantial amount, these are the ones that shape us on the daily. Therefore, it’s worth ensuring that they do not fall victim to our willpower fluctuations.
Success or Bust
With 7 billion people on this planet, perspective is often your best friend. Choices can be make or break but they are only as defining as we make them out to be. Sometimes it might feel like our world is ending [queue dramatic doomsday sound effects] and that nothing is in our control. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, even that impossible mountain can be climbed with the right preparation such as a good attitude, and the right gear.
“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation”—Zig Ziglar
With that said, for many the pressure for success is a dark cloud that is constantly looming. Expectations keep growing increasingly higher and anxiety keeps taking over moments that should be filled with excitement. When faced with a decision, do we put in the extra effort to go one step further or do we take the path of least resistance? One thing is clear, success does not lie where many have gone before. It is not what everyone does. If that was the case, our society would look a lot different.
Taking the Road Less Traveled By
The first thing that popped into my head, on the topic of making decisions and going where few have gone before, is this famous poem by Robert Frost. Most of us have probably heard the last lines at some point or another.
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There are defining moments in life that separate successful people from quitters. Where some throw in the towel, others power through and reap the benefits, of roads seldom walked and choices seldom taken and followed through on. In retrospect, we always wonder ‘What if…’ for the decision we do not make. But we can find peace in the idea that we put in the extra effort where most people usually give up.
Beyond the Norm
To achieve something beyond the norm, you need to do something beyond the norm. Often times, the path you take depends on your willpower. Just remember that you will not always have the motivation to choose what is best for you. We all have our off days, where we just do not feel like doing anything. Depending on your motivation/mood to help you make your decisions is like depending on the weather to decide if you’ll go outside. Now imagine you live somewhere where it rains often. If you are waiting for the rain to stop and for the sun to come out, life will most definitely pass you by.
Similarly, if you wait for your willpower to reach the minimum viable level for decision-making you, like many others, will find yourself taking the path of least resistance more often than you would care to say. Therefore, we should aim to separate our decision-making from something as temperamental as our willpower, if we really want to get somewhere in life. Active decision-making should be our new default so that whatever our level of willpower, we can still choose to go beyond the norm.
Remember that success resides outside your comfort zone. If you keep doing the same thing don’t expect a different outcome. If you keep following the crowd, don’t expect to stand out. If you keep saying you are going to do something but never act on it, then don’t expect the result you desire.
When you get to one of life’s many crossroads, from everyday hurdles to large life changing choices remember your new default. Comfort is not your friend!
Note: When I mention going beyond the norm and where no one has gone before, I am referring to using our willpower to do what few or none have succeeded in doing. Where others succumb to the fluctuations in their willpower, this is where you rise to the occasion and push beyond the comfort of the default. The comfort of the masses.
“Our mistakes don’t make or break us. If we are lucky, they simply reveal who we really are, what we’re made of. Challenges will come, but if you treat them simply as test of who you are, you’ll come out of it not bitter and victimized, but smarter and stronger.