Calculating Your Return on Life
I have a problem with the concept of right and wrong. I should be able to make a pros and cons list and at the end be able to make a reasoned decision that I can be at least 95% confident (depending on the confidence interval used) will turn out in my favor.
I grew up with spreadsheets and being rewarded when I came up with the correct answer to the story problem I was given.
But life isn't a story problem about a train and the time it takes to get from point A to point B if it's traveling at _____ speed.
I have a problem accepting that not everything its going to be perfect and it’s not going to be perfect all at once because there is no perfect solution.
Good things come and go.
Tricky situations come and go.
Sometimes everything in life seems to be on the up, while other times everything seems to be falling apart. But nothing’s static - something will give and your world will be changed once again.
Before I left for the Dominican Republic my life was full of highs and lows of anxiety and depression. There was so much uncertainty. And I was unhappy. A formula for an emotional shit-storm. I knew I had to get out of Grand Rapids. I thought that would magically fix my problems. If only I was in [fill in the blank] I would have friends. If only I was in [fill in the blank] I wouldn’t be bored. I wouldn’t feel empty. This didn’t prompt my trip, however.
While place sometimes dictates outcomes, that isn’t always the case.
I have a difficult time with this concept. If things aren’t perfect, what can I do to change it? What can I do to make my job, relationship, friendships, health, income, perfect? Well - nothing. Not everything is going to be perfect all at once.
How do I know that moving someplace will grant me everything I thought I had been missing?
How do I know that [fill in the blank] is the answer.
“I hate middle school, I can’t wait to get to high school. Everything will be so much better. I hate high school, I can’t wait to get to college. College is [fill in the blank], I can’t wait to graduate. Everything’s a mess. I don’t know what I’m doing, I wish I was back in school.”
We often focus on the next thing, because something is wrong with where we currently are. A bad relationship, a loss, stress. But if we’re always looking ahead to the next thing, are we ever really focused on the joys (however minimal) of the present?
But, if we’re unhappy, why not change things and take the next step? This is true. If you’re stuck, there’s no point in staying stuck. But this option isn’t always accessible to everyone at the drop of a pin. And how do we know if moving to a new city, quitting a job, or starting over isn’t going to end up catastrophic - worse off than before.
Well, we don’t.
And there’s no precise formula for deciding when to make life changes in order to increase you’re return on life.
But, I have learned this:
If we really focus on the present, put all of our energy into it, regardless of the good or bad happening, things will fall into place and perhaps guide us to our next step.
Don’t settle. But don’t keep moving because you’re uncomfortable.
Because being uncomfortable is sometimes part of the formula for a successful outcome. Sometimes you have to take a job you don’t want in order to get to that dream career you want. Sometimes you have to live at home with your parents, because well, it would be better than a cardboard box. And sometimes you need to cherish that time because you may wish you had it back at ten years later.
Life is the most complicated math problem of all time and that stresses me the fuck out. But life isn’t black or white, and unlike an equation, there are many methods of solving and many answers.
Try not to stress out over each step. Because no answer is the right or wrong answer.