CHOICES AND WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN YOU MAKE THEM

Last week, due to the fact I had to make some myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about choices: small choices, life-changing choices, the process of making them, what influences our choices and how making one makes us feel. As they’re part of our everyday life, and sometimes extremely hard to make, today’s blog post is all about choices and what to keep in mind when you make them.

spoilt for choice

I had three minutes before my bus would depart, so I ran into the supermarket to grab a bar of some sort to silence the increasingly loud groan of my stomach. In front of the aisle I immediately panicked, as it displayed 50-odd muesli-, nut- and grain bars that were presenting themselves in shiny wrappers, making my gaze shift uncontrollably from left to right. At that stage, I only had two minutes left.

Sometimes life feels like walking through a big supermarket, and you’re being spoilt for choice. Everyday you can opt for something new, you could choose something different, and there is an overwhelming assortment of things to choose from. Does it make things easier? Hell no. The sheer amount of choices life offers us is sometimes paralysing. What do you choose, and how do you know if you are making the right choice, are questions that we often ask ourselves or that might even keep us awake at night.

“Sometimes life feels like walking through a big supermarket, and you’re being spoilt for choice.”

Before I tell you what to keep in mind when making them, I want to make a distinction between small and big choices. Throughout the day, we make a ton of tiny choices ranging from what clothes you’ll wear in the morning, how you address someone at work, to what you’ll eat for dinner. When I think of big choices, I think of saying yes or no to a new position they offer you at work, choosing whether you fight for the person you’re in love with, or making the choice to move to a totally different place.

Big or small, I believe there is no such a thing as a right or wrong choice. You simply make one. You might choose to wear pink stockings with red polka dots to work and realise, once you’re there, it was a very unfortunate choice, but the choice to wear them in the first place cannot be deemed right or wrong.

The other good thing about choices is that you’re not really stuck with them: you can unchoose your choice. So you might decide to say yes to that new position at work, but after a couple of months realise it wasn’t what you were hoping it to be… and that’s OK. Regretting or making the wrong choice is fine, it doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means you’re making a different choice based on the information that is available to you now.

what to keep in mind when making choices

So how do you actually make a choice? When making a big choice, I’d certainly take some time to consider whether it’s something you really want at that stage in your life, whether it fits the general direction you’re taking, and matches the things you find important. For example, if you’re cherishing a very close bond with your family and your new job requires you to move to another continent, you’d have to consider the impact of such distance on maintaining this relationship when making the choice. Don’t overthink things though. If you really want something; don’t be afraid to just give it a go. Remember that you can always unchoose your choice!

For the smaller decisions, I’ll tell you what happened in the two minutes I’d left in the supermarket. In a state of internal panic, my mind was frantically weighing the pros and cons of the extremely high sugar granola bars, the not fantastically tasty vegan nut snacks, and the treats that reminded me of primary school. All of a sudden I just randomly grabbed something, paid and ran out of the supermarket.

I was lucky. I caught my bus in time, and my haphazardly grabbed bar was simply outstanding. That instance made me realised that, every now and then, an unplanned choice might actually be the best one. Would that bar have been utterly disgusting, I would have probably reasoned that I had chosen, tried and would never choose it again next time.

Love,

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WHEN YOU JUST DON’T KNOW, JUST LOOK FOR THE WAYMARKS

There are times that everything seems to flow naturally. You’re feeling good, life’s cool, you’re not fussing about something in particular. Your days appear normal rather uneventful but fulfilling, as you seem to have found a routine that suits you. And then, all of a sudden, one thing changes and the entire structure loses its stability all together.

Hooray!

This happened to me last week. The project I’m currently working on is coming to an end and the subsequent proposal that was made, which I initially thought I loved, might not be the thing I want to do after all. In the span of two days, I felt like my recently build pink air castle suddenly turned into a raging storm. I’d been swept of my feet, my consciousness was clouded, I panicked and couldn’t stick to my routine anymore. My head yelled: “You might be without a job in two months! What are you going to do now?”

“I just don’t know!”

After the initial loss of mental clarity (read: cycling through town for no reason and eating lots of crap), I forced myself to have a better look at the situation. Is it really that bad? In what ways could I regard this as an opportunity? Could this be a new adventure? When walking the Camino, the yellow arrows point you in the right direction. On the GR, it’s the red and white, the stones and the shells that guide you. I reckon we can find these waymarks in life too, although they might require a little more effort to find.

26 770x550 when you just don't know IMG_4144

Besides looking for directions, clues or other stuff that can ignite you fire to continue wandering with a fierce pace. Give yourself some time. It’s OK to just don’t know for a day or two, eat nachos and ice cream, forget about your work-out and let your house turn into a pig shed. Just make sure you get your ass of the couch the day after, clean up and start mapping out a new route… even if you’re not sure.

Sudden changes like this force you to think about which direction you want to head in. Pick a new path or, perhaps, continue walking with a new mindset. There are always certain things that can give you direction. Eventually, it might not be the greatest or the most beautiful route, and you might not even be heading into the right direction, but you’ll figure that out soon enough, when shit hits the fan and all falls apart again. The next time, however, you might not need an I just don’t know-day before you’re ready to jump into a new adventure.

Love,

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FROM TWENTY SEVENTEEN TO TWENTY EIGHTEEN: CONTINUE WALKING

When I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago and blog about it, I also wanted to include more personal posts. Up until today I did not really write anything personal, let alone mention my motivations for undertaking this journey. Why not? I guess the answer is simple: I find it difficult and, perhaps, a little frightening to share something that’s so close to me.

The past week, being the last week of the year, I took some time to reflect on all that has happened in 2017. It has been a mix of unusual experiences, big decisions, surprises, frustrations, intense anger, uncontrollable laughter, massive mistakes, little smiles, sorrow, unforgettable moments, personal achievements, confusion and clarity. The year that has come to a conclusion, was marked by the endings of several paths I have travelled in the past. The end of my academic career by obtaining my Master’s degree, the mending of a shattered heart and the long-awaited arrival of my mind here in the Netherlands after my body had already returned from Australia in 2016… to name but a few of those preceding pathways.

However, endings create and encourage space for something entirely new to happen. So 2017 was also full of tiny beginnings, new insights and ideas that still have to grow. You could compare it to the first steps on a trail that, at first glance, looks very promising. Although uncertain where it will lead me, with this somewhat more personal post and in the new year that is waiting to commence, I will continue walking.

Happy New Year!

Love,

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