Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
None of us ever has to do anything.
Of course there are many things we should do, even things we’re required to do. But we don’t have to do any of them.
So many of us get into patterns that make us feel like we don’t have any free will, but that is an illusion.
We all have responsibilities. We all have choices that, in our minds, are not really choices at all.
Each of us has a particular lifestyle. When we are faced with choices that, on their surface, seem inconsistent with our lifestyles, we tend to dismiss them out of hand. This attitude puts artificial boundaries on our lives that limit our experiences and close our minds.
This is not to say that we should ignore our responsibilities. Rather, we should recognize each choice as an opportunity. This may not alter the course of our lives—we may continue to make the same choices—but it may open our minds to possibilities that we had not considered before.
Our choices don’t have to be as major as following a band around for three months or investing all our savings in a startup. They may be little things: opportunities to do something new or chances to expand our perspectives, do something good, or have fun.
We are faced with these choices every day—some big, some little. We may not be able to take advantage of most of them but we owe it to ourselves to at least recognize them as choices. Who knows? We may discover something that changes our lives.
It can also be helpful to consider the possible consequences of our choices. The reason why our choices follow certain patterns throughout our lives is that we want them to have consequences that are consistent with our goals.
This starts early in our lives. We develop career goals, family goals, and lifestyle goals and we begin to make choices that we believe will contribute toward achieving those goals. This is a logical approach, which makes the achievement of our goals much more likely.
However, it also establishes a pattern of choices that can become fairly rigid if we let it. There is a distinction between choices that are detrimental to our goals and those that don’t directly support our goals. We should stay away from the former but always be open to the latter – it’s those choices that can make life interesting.
The road less traveled doesn’t have to involve a major change in direction; it might just be a fun little detour.