Sunday, June 2, 2013

Difficult Choices

“A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.”
Rita Mae Brown
“Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom.  They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.” 
Jim Carrey

There have been changes in both my professional and personal lives lately and I’m not always sure how to respond.  My life sometimes seems to be at the mercy and control of others and that’s not a pleasant feeling.  I do my best but that still doesn’t mean I will get what I want or need.  (I’m speaking about my professional life here.)
            What does one do when all the choices seem difficult and risky?  I don’t think there are always easy answers, but I recommend the following:
1.              Know what you want.  This is why I have 3x5 cards that I carry with me and look at them constantly.  Doing this helps me to make clearer decisions.  This is why I’m working on my blog right now instead of doing other things.  It’s not that those other things are bad or wrong, but writing is part of my Purpose.  So the decision is easy.
2.              Do your best.  When I do my best, then I don’t have to look back with regret or remorse.  Although my best is different at different times and from day to day, doing my best is all I can do. 
3.              Don’t try to please everyone.  Not everyone is going to like my best.  In adult education, I don’t reach everyone.  Some students leave no matter what I do.  In the past I have bent over backwards to please one student, usually the loudest or most aggressive, only to realize that student wouldn’t stay fully engaged or would leave no matter what I did.  My favorite example of this is a student I had years ago.  I was teaching a math class and she loudly exclaimed in front to the whole class that she didn’t understand the work and that I, as her teacher, needed to give her more practice at home.  So during my break I hastily made a several-page practice packet for her and the rest of the class.  When the class reconvened the next week, I saw that she had not done one problem!  That was a valuable lesson for me.
4.              Make corrections when necessary.   Part of doing my best is to accept that I could have done something differently or, yes, better.  My best is still my best, but if I get new information later, then my best will be different next time.
5.              Don’t look for a formula. There is no “answer” to every problem.  Sometimes God is silent.  Sometimes one life goal conflicts with another.   Sometimes I please one person and upset another.  Sometimes I’m in a “no-win” situation.   Sometimes life just isn’t fair.  When teaching ethics I learned that ethics is not about right versus wrong, but rather, which choice is the most right or the least wrong.  For example, do I work more hours to provide for my family or do I spend more time with my family and reduce my ability to provide?
6.              Don’t expect to completely please yourself.  I understand that some choices I have made did not leave me completely happy.  That’s okay if I did my best.   If I had made the opposite choice, I wouldn’t have been completely happy either.  Don’t look for happiness or complete resolution.   Just allow it to be a learning process.  A perfect life is not possible, but a very good life is.
7.              Make a decision that will make you happy.  I’m not talking about the outcome here, but the decision itself.  I can’t control the outcome anyway.

I think that’s it.  I’ll be honest.  This blog was for me.  As I try to navigate my life, I have to accept that life isn’t always fair.  But it can be good.  I can make it the best by doing my best.  I can take my lesson from the flower and open up and turn toward the light.  All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going.