Before the information revolution, employment was more or less a hierarchy-laden machine. You followed the car in front of you, and except for a few mavericks, it was hard to find a passing lane. You just had to wait for your turn to get a raise, get promoted or get noticed.
“That must have sucked,” says everyone who never saw the broad side of a dial-up connection.
Enter the Internet and very quickly the one lane road turned into the salt flats ofendless opportunity with people veering off in every cardinal direction – success oozing out of their tailpipes.
It seemed that all you had to do was see a problem, create your own value, tackle it on your own, and voila!
Success Sandwiches for everyone.
“This rules,” says those people who just created LLC’s on Legal Zoom.
Well nothing is that simple. For all budding engineers out there, they know that in the conservation of energy, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it just changes form.
Same goes for this new economy. There are always trade-offs.
While the opportunities opened up in the Internet world, surety decreased.
We traded the frustration of hierarchy with the fears of the unknown.
We swapped the desire to choose with the anticipation of choosing wrong.
On its own, endless choice does not lead to guaranteed satisfaction.
What used to be a passing thought of, “I wonder if I’d be happier if I _______________” suddenly turned into, “Should I continue doing what I’m doing or should I ________________?”
When presented with this “stay on the highway” or “go off road” scenario for the first time, we react like a kid who goes to college having never imbibed in the forsaken elixir (um, beer), forcing our control dials to be set on either “reserved” or “ballistic.”
All or nothing.
Here’s the thing, just because some of the guardrails have been removed on your career highway, doesn’t mean you have to be barrelling down the side of a sand dune in your 2003 Honda Prelude to feel like you’re making the most of your opportunities.
In the words of Chris Rock, “Yeah you can do it, but that don’t mean it’s meant to be done. Shit, you can drive a car with your feet if you want to. That’ don’t make it a good freakin idea!”
In this time of true opportunity, the trick is to make an intentional choice, not a brazen one. And the beauty of intentionality in a world of choice is that at first, the choice doesn’t have to be “this or that” it can be “this and that.”
Can you continue what you’re doing and:
- work on something on the side?
- work part time?
- propose a new working schedule with your boss?
- interview on the side to see what other opportunities are out there for you?
- take a class to see if you like this new interest?
- interview someone who has had a similar decision as you do?
- reach out to someone who made the leap like you’re contemplating?
Can you stay on the highway and make a few side trips to start?
In the end, you don’t have to totally abandon the highway if it works for you.
Sometimes the highway is nice. It’s lit, it’s paved, it has lane markings, it has gas stations and rest stops. Your life is your life. Choosing to stay on the big highway is just as impressive of a choice as the decision to exit off of it.
The power we so luckily wield in the 21st century is not having the opportunity to do anything but the choice to do something.
**How do you handle choice in your life?**