There are ONLY three options

No matter the undesirable situation you find yourself in, you always (and only) have three actionable options: change it, accept it, or abandon it. As in the enlightened St. Frances prayer, the wisdom is in knowing the difference.

The practice responsible for the better part of our misery is sitting around wishing and hoping that things would change. Everyone needs to vent sometimes, but before complaining too much, and in place of wishing, ask yourself which option you’ve chosen.

Hard work can work against you

Work ethic is a value we’re taught to respect, as we should. But working hard on the wrong things is counter-productxive.

I would argue that hard work applied to fixing a horrible, toxic relationship or job is mis-applied. If we put energy in monetary terms, it would be like spending $2,000 to repair a $500 laptop. Put your effort into finding the right relationship, job, boss, accountant, mentor, or new laptop.

Working hard to climb the ladder is admirable, but do the harder work of making sure the ladder is leaning up against the right wall.

What will they think of me?

We often place the heaviest emphasis in making important decisions by answering the internal voice that asks “what will they think of me?”

Even if your decision will cause others to have (or worse, VOICE) negative opinions of you, they’ll be short-lived and likely exaggerated. Our egos delude us into thinking that people are climbing on each other’s shoulders just to get a better view of us. They’re not. Look around. Their heads are down looking at their phones.

Recognize and replace this with a better question: “is this decision in the best interest of myself and those closest to me?” If you make decisions for good reasons, those that matter don’t care, and those that care don’t matter.

What we want vs. what’s on offer

Most of us don’t think about what we want in terms of a blank canvas.

Ask a middle-aged man what he REALLY wants to do in his career and he’ll restate his resume, telling you what he thinks the market will allow him to do.

It’s unfortunate that we make decisions about our career by how we think people view us, or by the job offers we got; the kind of person we want to date by only considering one of the people who asked us out; where we want to go on vacation by what we think we can afford today, and what we really want to eat tonight by the handful of restaurants we’ll pass on the way home.

Asking “what do I really want?” doesn’t cost anything, and allows you to consider that there’s more on offer than the menu right in front of you.