Your Future is Defined by What You Do Today
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP
Career Transition and job Search Coach
My father was a philosopher at heart, and he was my most important teacher when it came to my learning about choices. He was big hearted and kind and always wanted what was best for us three kids, but he was also smart and tough and wise. He knew that making it too easy would not teach us about responsibility and about the importance of making the right choices.
One such occasion involved my Homecoming dance my sophomore year in high school. I had foolishly accepted a date with a boy I didn't know very well. It wasn't that I didn't like him okay (at first) but I was too eager in my acceptance of the invitation to Homecoming because I wanted a date. In the ensuing weeks, I began to learn enough about this young man that I began to dread the date. As luck would have it, I also developed not one but two ingrown toenails...one on each foot...which required that I wear flip flops to school instead of shoes well into October.
I wanted to use my hurting toes as an excuse to cancel the date, but my dad intervened. "You are not going to change your mind at the last minute and hurt that boy's feelings," he told me sternly. "You agreed to go, and you are going to keep your commitment. If you didn't want to go, you should have told him so up front. You have been going to school with those toes hurting all week...you can go to the dance. Just take your shoes off when they start to hurt."
He was unyielding. I didn't understand why he cared so much. Later it occurred to me that he probably had a great deal of sympathy for my date. Perhaps he had been disappointed when a girl changed her mind at the last minute. Who knows? But I know I learned an important lesson from that single episode. Ever since then, I have been slow to agree to anything unless I am 100% sure I can follow through. It has been a good practice that has held me in good stead for most of my life, and it may account for the fact that two years later, my senior year in high school, I was voted the "Most Dependable Girl" in my senior class.
Choices matter, and what you choose to do now can impact you in ways you may not even anticipate down the road. My Homecoming example wasn't going to have a tremendous impact on how my life turned out one way or the other except that I learned a very valuable lesson about keeping commitments and following through on promises. So, perhaps it was more important than it would seem initially.
This weekend, I went to see the movie, LaLa Land. I was curious about all the hype, and I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. I am glad I went, and if you haven't seen it yet, go. It is entertaining, to say the least. Without providing a spoiler, let me say that toward the end, there is a very pointed and poignant scene (or series of scenes) that look at the story through the lens of what might have been for the main characters. It reminded me that choices matter. What you choose to do now can impact you in ways you may not anticipate down the road.
The trouble with making choices, of course, is that sometimes we make bad ones. I have made some doozies in spite of my resolve not to commit too quickly. Making mistakes is part of living. I don't know of anyone who has never made a mistake or who doesn't look back and wonder on occasion what might have been.
I want to urge you to forego having a pity party about it, though. Learn from your mistakes, but don't dwell on them. Wasting time and energy on regret is a misuse of the time you have now. In every "now moment" you have the choice to do something meaningful or not. Make good choices. Think of the future you want and work your way backward if that helps you decide what you should be doing right now to create the future for yourself that you want.
Too many people drift through life waiting for their big break. I don't believe that breaks come to those who wait, however. I believe they come to the people who go out and get them--or at least meet them halfway. They put themselves in the right place, and they are always ready to capitalize on the opportunity that will move them closer to their dream.
What do you dream for yourself? Do you want a better job? A better relationship? Do you want a different house? I have a friend who is always talking about her dream of living near the water. She says it is in her DNA and she knows that someday she will live near the ocean. I have held back from asking her...what are you waiting for? When will be a better time to move than now?
Do you have a dream of living in a certain place but have convinced yourself it isn't possible for now? I already shared with you that my dad died before he could realize his lifelong dream of seeing the Grand Canyon. He waited too long. Don't make that mistake. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. Make your future now by making the choices that will get you there. And make those choices now.
Until next time.