If you are thinking about going back to school, moving, changing careers, or planning to retire, then there is a hard decision to be made when selecting one choice over another. Earlier this year I had to make a hard career choice. One choice was to work for an established boutique marketing firm as a Marketing Executive with tons of clients, lots of travel opportunities, a sufficient level of autonomy, and financial security. The alternative was to become a Marketing Executive for a specialty retail startup with no clients, a few travel opportunities, complete autonomy, and no financial security. I would have been a good Executive at the marketing firm, but I wanted to be great. The success of the startup would largely depend on the effectiveness of my work and needless to say, I chose the startup.
In Ruth Chang’s TED Talk “How to make hard choices”, she explains that what makes a choice hard is the way that the alternatives relate to each other. With an easy choice, one alternative is better than the other, but with a hard choice, neither alternative is better. Chang believes that we, as people, unwittingly assume that values are akin to scientific quantities (greater, lesser, and equal to), but if what matters to us (love, security, greatness) can’t be represented by real numbers, then in choice we should not be limited to only three possibilities. Alternatives can be on a par, or have similar outcomes.
Steve Jobs once said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” When we become the authors of our lives we create reasons for ourselves and do not allow the world to do so for us. So, when making a decision between hard choices, look for reasons inside as I did earlier this year. Do this and the choice should always be clear. Choose to be great.
Until next time…