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How to Make the Right Decision

Midtown Atlanta from GT's Bobby Dodd Stadium

I‘ve made a lot of poor decisions since I graduated college, and the only thing positive I can say at this point is that I now know exactly why those decisions were bad ones. I endured a lot of heartbreaking crap because I simply didn’t understand how to make the right choices for my future.

And while you may be reading this thinking you have all your ducks in a row, all I can say is that I feel you – I honestly do. All I’m asking today is that you listen to my story, because I think I can help you to make more positive decisions about your future.

First, my story

The most life-changing things I learned in college had absolutely nothing to with school, books, theorems, or companies. By far, the “stickiest” things that I learned – the things that still affect me the most – were a direct result of experiences gained through personal exploration. Specifically, I’m talking about:

1. Living in a new city

Throughout college, I was fortunate enough to live in and explore Atlanta, and I immediately embraced it as my own. No one guided me on that venture, and all the experiences I had there were uniquely mine. I loved the cosmopolitan yet southern flair of the city, the amazing architecture, its national profile, and all of the creative energy that it encompassed. I miss it so much because it filled me with such an overwhelming sense of possibility and hope for a better future.

Midtown Atlanta from Piedmont Park at night

2. Travel

Waterfall in downtown HoustonIn 2001, I spent the summer in Houston, TX, as an intern. For most of my time there, I was completely isolated because I had no friends in Texas. Although I remember being homesick and hating the fact that I was lonely, I actually have extremely fond memories of my time in Houston. I ended up spending most of my time golfing, and I learned a lot about myself.

First, I realized just how much I love the finite reality that is geography. I’m fascinated by the sense of mental connectedness that you can achieve by traveling to different places and putting them all together in a relative spatial context. Being in Houston really opened my eyes to that, and it’s been a major part of my life ever since.

The second, and probably most important, thing that I learned was that I could enter a completely unknown space with virtually no resources and really thrive. The only problem with this knowledge is that I just recently realized how powerful and potentially life-changing it really is. I look at it as the roots of my own entrepreneurial spirit, if you will.

3. Independence

Theoretically, college is a transitional time where you go from being almost totally dependent to being almost totally independent. I said theoretically. I know tons of people who graduated from college and got hit with the immediate and harsh reality of “Now what?” Some of those people, myself included, ended up regressing into the land of parental dependence once more.

Now that I look back on my time in college, it’s very clear that when I exercised my independence, I received the ultimate twofold benefit. First, I made myself happy. If that’s not enough, I also learned by creating new experiences. Through these experiences, I gained not only tangible knowledge, but also intangible knowledge about myself and about what I could do with my life to really be happy.

Putting it all together

Despite all of my revelatory experiences, I still failed to understand how to use my knowledge to make the best possible decisions about my career and my life’s direction. College kids get hit with a lot of noise around graduation time, and I was no exception. Here’s some of the noise that made my internal signals all the more unclear:

  • Soon-to-be graduates all feel pressured to “get a job,” and things like company profile and starting salary become artificial measures of success. If you’re reading this, please understand that nothing could be less relevant.
  • The entire setup stinks. Companies will only interview people who are set to graduate with a particular major, and so the kids have to worry about getting the “right” interview with the “right” company, all in hopes that they’ll obtain the myth that is a perfect job with the perfect company. It’s so stupid I could puke.

I fell victim to all the garbage I just listed, and I’m certain that much of it influenced my decision making. I went to the big career fairs that are so popular, and I followed the other sheep with regard to what I call the corporate pursuit.

Looking back, I remember not wanting to set up any interviews, and I also remember only reluctantly going to those career fairs. I felt as though I was being irresponsible if I didn’t go, and I never wanted to feel like I was throwing away some of the opportunities that college supposedly afforded me.

Although interviews and corporate jobs were considered the natural pre and post graduation processes, all I can say for sure is that I did not proactively choose to walk the path that I ended up taking. It was by no means what I wanted to do, and unfortunately, my decisions throughout this process ended up costing me a lot more than I care to elaborate on here.

On any scale, at any level, the principles behind your decision making should be the same. Factors like money and peer expectations, while always present, are nothing more than distractions. Based on your life’s experiences, only you know what will ultimately make you happy.

I made my initial career decisions based on money and peer expectations, and I forfeited many of the things that mattered most to me. I got knocked off the fulfilling track of independent exploration, and this also cost me some of the best sources of inspiration in my life (my city, my travels, and my freedom).

The bottom line

I can’t tell you how many decisions in my life have been guided by pragmatism and finances, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bitten in the ass as a result of these decisions. I didn’t have the balls to stay in Atlanta after college because I didn’t want to rent an apartment. I thought renting was stupid because you basically end up pissing away all that money, and that’s just not smart. Right?

Midtown Atlanta at night

Wait a minute…Is it smarter to compromise your happiness and not follow the direction that you want your life to take, all in the name of pragmatism? You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that all the people in my life who offer “practical advice” are not nearly as happy or as free as I hope to be someday.

Sometimes I want to slap myself for not being blissfully ignorant.

Anyway, I’m done making decisions based on the wrong criteria, and after reading all this, I hope you are, too.

The next time you’re faced with a big decision in life, look no further than yourself and your past for guidance. As long as you never let a decision cost you something that is uniquely you, you will always make the right decision. Screw money – it’s not you. If a decision costs you money (or possessions, or whatever), you’ll get over it. However, if it costs you something that you love, you’ll be like me and wake up one morning wishing that you hadn’t made such critical mistakes.

Don’t worry about me, though. I’m doing just fine now :)

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98 comments… read them below or add one

Pete Gilligan August 6, 2006

Awesome entry, Chris. I’m a sophomore in college right now, halfway across the country from my home. I latched on to independence (refused to come home after my first year, still here doing research for the summer!).

Thanks for the insight :)

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noah kagan August 6, 2006

Brilliant post. In the words from a great high school movie:
“right on, right on, right on”

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Ashrufzz August 6, 2006

It’s a shame how the conventional wisdom is still engrained in today’s young generation (that would include me of course). It is difficult to overcome but we need to work it out somehow..

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Nick August 7, 2006

Chris,
This is an excellent post in more ways then one. First, I can relate to it. Being a mechanical engineering major myself, I see the things that my classmates put themselves through to get interviews. I did the same thing to get my current job. Let me tell you what, I absolutely abhor the corporate cultures. It’s ridiculous politics, paperwork, and a meaningless life. Even if you do something great, you won’t get the rewards out of it for long.

Second, I’m also in a foreign city for an internship. Good ol’ Louisville, KY. It couldn’t be more different from where I grew up in Gary, IN. I’m kind of a loner, so I’ve been experiencing this pretty much on my own.

As I go forward, I’ve kind of been inspired by your posts here and your about page. I’ve also met a lot of people through the internet who are successful doing the things that they love, and I can only hope that I end up the same way.

Once again, great post, and thanks or putting it up.

-Nick

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Matthew August 7, 2006

Chris, excellent post. Really hits home, as I am currently a Junior down at Mercer U. in Macon (you know, that little town South-East of Atlanta) and contemplating things like jobs, travel, and grad school.

Great tips.. thanks for the insight.

Matthew

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Damien August 8, 2006

Wonderful advice — like many of the commenter’s above, I’m also in college (though I’m just going in as a freshman at a JC; majoring in computer science).

More people need to hear advice like this. Thanks for the insight.

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Paul August 8, 2006

Chris, if you’re realizing this now, at this age (whatever that is exactly, but I assume you’re still pretty young) then you’re at least 10 steps ahead of the game. Realizing it when you’re 40, with a wife, kids, house, etc. that depend on you is a bit more problematic.

The thing is, people change over the years, and that’s something to consider. The passions of your mid-twenties may morph into something very different as you move through life. That’s when you realize that mistakes (unless they’re catastrophic) aren’t as “critical” as your response to them, and that if you’re willing to pick yourself up and move forward then you will not have “lost” anything, you’ll just be that much more confident in your new direction.

I guess what I really mean to say is that what seem like mistakes now may just be changes in your outlook/needs/desires, or maybe valuable re-affirmations of them. Move on with that knowledge and don’t waste time beating yourself up.

Great post. Good luck.

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Lucy August 8, 2006

Everyone learns from mistakes. This is the most important thing! If you can learn something from an experience next time you will do your best.

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Ben August 13, 2006

The thing they never mention in high school is that if you kick ass at what you do no one ever asks about a college diploma.

College is fun. When I graduate it will be a big accomplishment, it will prove to me and other that when I set out to do something I do it well and I finish it, but I don’t think my degree is what is going to land me a job…

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Anthony Bullock August 13, 2006

Hey,

I’ve been reading your blog on and off for a little while now, and I must say….I’ve been waiting to read something like this for a long time.

It inspired me to quit my awful degree in business administration and law and persue my dream of becoming a certified and qualified graphic artist….something I love deeply.

Thanks for the step in the right direction and the big wake up call.

Much Appreciated,
Anthony

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Anthony Bullock August 13, 2006

I forgot to mention:

I’m 19, I start studying at the art institute in mid October.

I cannot wait to get started!

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chrys August 14, 2006

Way to go, you just turned Anthony Bullock from a potentially prosperous executive or lawyer into another poor and desperate graphic designer. Essentially he will be chum for the rest of the already bloated and over-hyped industry.

Of course, I’m only half kidding.

This kind of idealism is a double edged sword. It’s great to go with your gut when it works, but when it’s the 5th of the month and rent is due, idealism is far too lazy to get up and pay the piper.

My advice – parallel careers. As a screenwriter living in Hollywood, my chances of being produced are infinitely more slim than Anthony’s chances of becoming a designer. Luckily, I support my artistic aspirations with more down to earth practical and technical expertise.

I think that’s the new dynamic for artists. Gone are the starving artists and bohemian dirtbags of the past. An artist in today’s world knows the value of financial solvency and a good night’s sleep…

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Chris P. August 15, 2006

Chrys,

I hope that my readers find more success than merely making ends meet on a month-to-month basis. Taking that leap of faith (in the face of pragmatism) is oftentimes the only way to truly get started on the route to both personal and financial freedom.

Good luck to Anthony, and also to you as you pursue your screenwriting career!

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Anthony Bullock August 16, 2006

In my very twisted opinion, here’s how it goes:

How many people out there can say they do a job that they love?

In turn

How many people out there have professional qualifications?

In further words

How many people out there have professional qualifications in what they love, and work a job they love too?

See my logic? Twisted ;)

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Nick August 16, 2006

Anthony,
I’m hoping to end up with professional qualifications that will lead to a job in a field I love. That’s why I switched from mechanical engineering (good at it, but it’s not exciting enough) to computer science (quick learner and growing field.)

Hopefully I’ll be one of the lucky few that gets paid for doing stuff they enjoy :)

-Nick

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jenn.su.hoy August 16, 2006

Excellent post on the crap the majority of us feed into after we go through the freedom of exploration in college. I went a step further, and moved to another new city upon graduation, where I didn’t know a soul and was a good 800 miles away from anything familiar.

That and the insects in the south (compared to north of Boston, where I went to school) are HUGE.

What’s funny, though, is I actually turned down a corporate position in favor for a smaller firm because:

I would get more hands-on experience and answer to less people
The starting salary would allow me to afford my own apartment, and the occassional dinner of Mac and Cheese

What’s funny is, now that it’s been a year and I’m settled in to life in my new city, I found I feel much happier and far more successful by the fact that I continued my exploration that we all begin in college, and didn’t try to sprint to the top before my time.

Again, excellent, very relatable post!

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Rico August 18, 2006

I know what you mean, Chris, about how a new city can open up your world.

Here in the Philippines, the best schools are in the capital (Metro Manila), where I grew up.

Thus, it was devastating to be kicked out of a prestigious university. But for some reason, I decided to continue my studies in the province.

And even though the quality of college education honestly wasn’t that great, I’m eternally grateful to fate for making me fail. Living in Naga City has provided me with insight and perspectives that I would’ve never learned if I stayed in Manila.

Even better, I discovered a true passion, Graphic Design, while I was studying there.

Thank you for the great post.

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jhay August 20, 2006

Great piece. A goldmine of lessons for all college students out there. Of course, I’d be an idiot if I were to swallow everything you wrote here, but I must say, they’ll prove useful to me someday. Great story.

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Monica August 22, 2006

Thanks for a wonderful entry. I just got out of college this year and your entry caused me to think more about what I want to do to make myself happier. You have definitely inspired me.

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Yuri December 12, 2006

My thoughts exactly. Do only what you enjoy doing, and you’ll be fine.

Btw, renting an apartment is only viable, when you have a job to back it up and have something left to live on.

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John Wesley December 13, 2006

I really like the post. I know exactly what you mean by the “corporate pursuit”. In fact I’m there right now. My main goal in life is to find a way out like you have.

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shirleen browne January 4, 2007

Tks so much for this advice. I have relocated from Central Australia to North Qld to complete an education degree (I am 50). I have taught Aboriginal children from remote Australia for 5 years in a tutorial role with excellent pay and security during school terms but needed to complete my degree to be employed fulltime ensuring holidays and sickpay.

I relocated mostly to be near my son who had a very difficult year. This has been the most unhappy year. All students here 18 (no older students living on campus – in the Northern Territory many living on campus). No work security and pay less than previously earned. Studywise lecturers great but the loneliness of being an older student here and on campus has been horrific.

I am sitting here considering my longterm goals as opposed to my current situation and have to decide within 7 days to stay and complete my degree here or spend considerable money to return to the Northern Territory. I was thinking about my decision making in the past and at times traded in the long term picture to meet an emotional need so I am trying to take emotions out of the picture but happiness is fundamental to success. This applies to whole life issues. I am proud of your courage and determination to find your way and eventual success.

God Bless You.
Shirleen.

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Heather April 11, 2007

That was the most inspiration I think I could have ever asked for in a long time, and it’s coming from a complete stranger. No offence. I was blown away by the experiences you once went through, and it is so close to what I am going through as of now. The worries of money have made me deppressed, not only that but I’ve asked myself where am i going in life, who am i really as a person, who are my true friends? I really liked the part about money, “Screw money – it’s not you,” yep I loved it! Money controls so many people and has been controling me for years, its time to change all of that, and move on. Life is more important to take on, I know i’m going to be huge in this word, because i have drive and ambition, I’m out there on my on, and it doesn’t always feel all that great; however, how else am i going to figure things out, I cant have someone controling my life.

It is really hard to seek out really good advice, unless one has went through the experiences. I know that I really can’t talk to my peers, because they never experienced the college life, and all of the changes of conforming, it was all about work work work! Talking to some friends is hard, because they are going through the same things, and others can give their opinion, but it isn’t going to complete me, I have to be content with myself and what i want out of life.

WOW! you have made me think twice, about an upcoming decision of moving back home or staying with my roomate, to learn more about college life. I feel its the easy way out to move back home, i need to stop running from my problems, and take a handle on my life.

thanks so much..there is a lot i’m thinking about and you have steered me in the right direction.

H

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Brent May 14, 2007

Very cool message. It increased my confidence in my first big life/career decesion that I made earlier today. I especially like that you added peer expectations along with money. In my case that was also something I had to get over to make the decesion. The peers in my case were the people I work with.

Thanks so much,
Brent

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Jill Burdett June 9, 2007

I really like the post. Thank you so much for the advice. You have made me think twice and carefully to consider on moving on with my study (I’m currently on my 3rd year of Telecommunication Engineering) or landing myself into a non-engineering job( I love the working society). Having a problem with money to further my study and at the same time I am finding myself struggling just to finish it up for the sake of a piece of certified degree.

I really hope to end up with professional qualifications that will lead to a job in a field I love.

-Jill ;)

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Tosin July 4, 2007

Hi, The design of this site is really awesome.
I’m loving the life of living truthfully – it’s so the way to live, for many reasons.

What do you care what other people think?
– Feynman

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ana August 26, 2007

hey folks
the question here might be whether one is afraid to show who he is?
take a girl that likes literature, languages and arts and further more there is a new school in town bout film making and she really likes to become a director…and her parents allow her!!!
well, there goes the question, if she does not succeed and feel a great lack of money one day?
on the other hand, she is good at maths too, so she could study computer sciences. Family would be proud of her. She would be proud of herself when saying she’d became a computer technician.
but, thats not her.
she is an art and literature girl.
she shouldn’t be afraid to show to people and family and TO HERSELF that she is not a “maths girl”

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Cell Phone Reviews September 3, 2007

While I agree that we shouldn’t follow money alone…it is definitely part of life. However, if we are to follow our passions and actually WORK, there’s a good chance that money will follow. BTW, I live just outside Houston. It is actually a very nice city.

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ShoAib Uddin November 2, 2007

Hi Chris, there’s really only 1 way i can put this into words it self, spectacular entry. I am a freshman at college at the moment, and just like yourself, I, myself was bewildered about where my life is going. Your entry ” How to make the right decision”, has provided me with an astonishing view of life it self. “Based on your life’s experiences, only you know what will ultimately make you happy” is an amazing way to put many aspects into a single line and I’m more than happy to say, you have inspired me.
p.s. “trust” me, it’s not easy to inspire me. But u did a great job.

-Shoaib

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Pauline November 9, 2007

Hi Chris

Well I’m a mature student, studying a degree that will eventually get me a job. After spending nearly three years in Manchester I am struggling and counting down the days I leave this place.
New city is great, but I think what makes a city is the people you meet. I too have chosen the wrong career path, and after 30years I now know what I would like to do – I didn’t choose it because I chose an easier path. This meant I lost lots, love and friendship of others.
Trust your instincts and when an opportunity arises that feels right take it! Even if I spent a year doing what I wanted and failed it would of been ok, but spending three years on this awful awful degree has been a nightmare. I have learn’t lots about myself and the rip-off education system. I’m not an academic or bright and at long last I’m happy to say that, I don’t wanna be. Just want to be happy and content and never ever feel like this again.
Pauline
UK

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name December 4, 2007

“things like company profile and starting salary become artificial measures of success. If you’re reading this, please understand that nothing could be less relevant”

very interesting. I’m a senior software engineer with 10 years of experience and this still rings true. But actually for your resume company profile does look good, and salary will pay off your debt. Hmm….

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Learn Speak Spanish January 27, 2008

Great Story!!!
I’m sure that your story about failures and success that most people meet in their life. Until now, I actually cannot know which my decisions are right and which my decisions are wrong. According to me, almost all of my decisions are wrong, but many other peoples, my friends, my relatives tell me that I make great success compare to others in my ages. However, I never satisfy with my life. Making a decision always heads me up. Maybe I’m from Asia, we’re different from culture. I don’t know how to explain. The wrong decisions really make me frustrated. I am going to try this way of thinking. I know that it just make me get more failures.

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Samantha January 29, 2008

I want to start of by saying I recently came across your blog and I love it. Your writing is wonderful. This post hits home very well. I’m in a similar situation right now. It’s always great to hear that I’m not the only one that doesn’t want to climb the corporate latter.

Sometimes I want to slap myself for not being blissfully ignorant.

I love that line btw. It perfectly suits your story. I couldn’t have worded it better myself. Anyway, no need for me to write a story. I look forward to (getting to you know you through your posts) reading your blog. It will keep me sane as I wilt away (@ cruise.com)

Samantha

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podGT January 31, 2008

Very well put. I enjoyed reading it.

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Couldn't have said it better March 12, 2008

Chris, reading this was like complete deja-vu for me. This lesson is one that I’ve been learning the hard way since graduating college and following the ‘practical’ path (I’m 23 now). Just like you, I had that moment where I realized all of the people who were giving me the practical advice were not anything like me, and the people who were telling me to follow my heart and put happiness first were the people who were also doing that, and who were happy doing it!

I try not to look toward past ‘mistakes’ as mistakes, but as important experiences that were essential in learning who I am and realizing what’s truly important. If that hadn’t happened, I think maybe the things that I’m really good at and love to do (art, music and theater) would have resided as hobbies and would have continued to have gone for granted.

When I read your post it really hit home and I just wanted to let you know it’s helped me to feel better. I’m planning to go back to school for a second degree in music next fall and as hard as it is to throw caution to the wind and swallow a mountain of potential debt, I think it will be worth it because I’ll be true to myself.

People get caught up in the logical path instead of the passionate path, but I realized something very important over the past couple of years – logical and practical stand for what makes the most sense, right? Well, music makes the most sense to me. So I think I’m going to be logical by following my heart, and I think everyone else should be too! Life is too short to waste all that awesome potential we have inside us hurting our backs in cubicles.

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Sha Sho April 21, 2008

I needed that. Thank You!

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John June 22, 2008

My problem is not whether to follow my heart or not. It’s which part of my heart should I follow? Right now I have a decision to either go back to a home I love or stay in a home I love. The decision will affect both my immediate and extended family and of course friends in either place. You might say, “what’s your problem, it’s a win-win for you.” But it’s not so simple. I can’t bear to lose the things from either place. They are very different so it’s hard to compare the two.

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Chris Pearson June 22, 2008

John — In my opinion, nothing is more valuable or admirable than true individuality. I think it’s easiest to unleash even the tiniest facets of your inner self when you’re away from your parents, and even though you’ll still be a product of your past and your experiences, the trails you blaze in the future will be uniquely yours. Why have it any other way, you know?

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Monica June 27, 2008

This was really relieving to read..

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Joe July 1, 2008

That was something I was searching for.. cos I was quite doubtful of the decision I made. now, however, I am decided.. and happy about it..and yeah! thanks for helping me out.
Cheerz! -Joe [:)]

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Bronzino July 22, 2008

Well, I’ve just completed a master’s degree as a returning ‘mature’ student, following my ‘dream’, and let me tell you–degrees don’t get you a job!! I’m applying now for positions that only require a bachelor’s. What good is this degree?! Worthless!! AND, I’ve screwed myself for any kind of happy retirement because I’ve lost so much money on this little ‘adventure’! Go ahead and explore life’s options when you can afford to recover from mistakes, but someone should have just said ‘you’re just to old to be taking such a risk’. The only option left to me now after this miserable mis-step is to die early. Next week would be nice.

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Christine July 31, 2008

“If a decision costs you money (or possessions, or whatever), you’ll get over it. However, if it costs you something that you love … ”

So right! I was just faced with euthanizing my horse for a broken leg, hence I’d get a broken heart, or cough up $8700 for surgery. Well, I chose surgery although all the *practical* people would laugh at me, but in the end, I’m so happy I made the decision. She’s recovering well and is a great joy in my life. As I said to a friend, “I can always make money, but I’ll never make another Nikki.”

Plus, it got my friends to rally and put up a video for me on YouTube (“Horse recovering from broken leg”). How cool is that?

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Aimee August 14, 2008

WOW. Just what i needed to hear. All the decisions i make seem to be the wrong ones., one way or another. maybe i need to sit and work out what i want out of life, then i can try and make the right decisions…..and maybe find happiness.

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kannan August 29, 2008

decision is the only reason for taking ,at the time of season,but we are giving the reason for the decision

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kannan August 29, 2008

decision is the word,that word which project the reason

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girly October 11, 2008

This is such a good article! And all the responses are so interesting :-)
I relate so much to Jonh’s difficulty of which part of the heart to follow. I am 30, I come from Greece, lived in the UK for 9 years and came back to Greece 6 months ago. The change is immense, much bigger than I expected. I’m now trying to decide on where is better for me. I’m a musician and culturally London is thriving but all my family is here. The mind and the challenge is there, the safe love is here. Tough!

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Jin October 15, 2008

Thank you so much for posting this. I got to your article by posting a question in google: “Making life decisions on my own” and I’m glad I clicked to come to your blog. I’ve been living for years, putting away what I really want to do in my life, because the pressure of my family’s decisions, coworker, friends decisions on what I should do for my life. Not enough money, loans, everything I don’t want to think about prevented me from doing what I love. Even though I felt so passionately for something I wanted to do my whole life, I let others take the chance to make up my life. And so I’ve been living in a place I hate, working in a cubicle dealing with boring paperwork for the money. I could probably make a good resume but for what? For a career I wouldn’t like, where I would most likely be sad for the rest of my life wondering if I ever had a past life cause in my current life, I feel as though everything I’m doing is not me. I am so scared of making mistakes because I have too many people that love to tell me their opinions all the time of how I should live my life. I’m hanging out with the wrong people and working at the wrong place. Thanks a lot for this post. You’ve helped a lot it seems like!

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Ladybug November 27, 2008

Wow. This article was submitted nearly two years ago and it is still making a difference. Thank you so much for posting this. I also currently stay in Atlanta and I love it… but career wise not so much. I’m doing the same thing, boring paper working, counting someonelses money. No fun. But I have been actively working towards my dreams in the process. Nevertheless, sometimes still question if its the right decision. After reading this I figure, why not? I’m not gaining anything from where I am right now. Hell… Live life. Enjoy your experiences and learn from them. Carpe Diem!!!!

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Diana December 31, 2008

Hey,

I love the article, it is inspiring and so true!

I would just like to add that if you don’t have money, then don’t let money be part of your decision, because ultimately passion prevails. Hence, if something is suppose to happen in your life everything will fall into place if you let it by following what you truly desire and money will be only be there to provide you financial support not guidance. “There isn’t a way to Happiness, Happiness is the way.”

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b March 31, 2009

fanbloodytastic! I was so ready to read this…. thnx for the inspiration :)
I,m a newbie to css & got distracted by ur rantings…. so glad I did… bbl

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tgood April 12, 2009
Marie June 4, 2009

I thought I was the only person in the WORLD that felt this way.
Sounds exactly like the story of my life!

Thanks for sharing :)

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Crazyhorse August 21, 2009

This is a nice article. Still the subject matter after more than 3 years! Great!
Listen and hear from the experiences of others but although some could not be applied to you then you must follow your heart and be ready for the consequences made by your decision. Follow yourself and let other share their experiences or point of views but certainly you should make decision not because of other people. If somethings went wrong nobody could be blamed aside from yourself!

If you have faith in God, pray as well and make sure that any decisions you made should not have implications to others as much as possible.

Just be happy and do not take life seriously, if you made a wrong decision that cannot be altered then just enjoy life and charge it to your experience.

I have made lots of probably would be considered as bad decisions in life but I do not take it seriously and I just got what are those good things to be learned from it. You will never be strong if you will not make any decision at all!

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Gav October 16, 2009

Ha ha ha, god I have made some pretty bad decisions in my time that’s for sure. Good article

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Will November 4, 2009

Society is very constricting by nature. It’s very important to never be roped in because the system itself is predatory and self-destructive.

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Gurgen November 26, 2009

Thanks for the article. I am in a similar situation where I am going to college but am not so happy. I have thought about a lot of things and paths to take. But it comes down to being happy and successful. Currently I am looking for a career I am passionate in, but am distracted my the thought of how much salary I will make. Lately, it has been crazy for me seems like every decision I make has its consequences. I feel like I can never get away with anything and the blame is always on me in the end. I have realized the most important thing to do is follow your heart and open your mind, and get rid of those thoughts which are holding you back. Think positive to make positive decisions, don’t make decisions based on others who lower your self esteem.

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Megan K January 15, 2010

I am a college student majoring in biomedical art and currently completing my thesis. I am having a hard time drowning out the negative critique with no basis from my instructors, among others. I’m really having a hard time seeing many of my peers powering through their senior year with a thesis that lacks originality in topic and/or is stagnant of any creativity. The message I have to deliver is grounded in passion, yearn for trustworthy, up to date information and absolute awe in the promise of stem cell research. I am using my skills to accurately depict info and give a different, fresh view of stem cell research for the masses to better understand. What the hell is so controversial about the promise of umbilical cord blood (rich in stem cells), that would otherwise be thrown out after birth, to cure and/or treat over 70 different diseases? Hopefully this didn’t drown on, as I’m up late researching.

Thanks for reminding me not to give up on my dreams and for helping me focus on what really matters and that is that I hope to make a difference someday through my art.

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Sveta February 6, 2010

Wow! This is a sign from above!!! I’m exactly on the verge of a big decision and I’m being ripped apart by my rational half (mostly inspired by parents-people-other older people) and my completely inconstant crazy hysterical self.

To be short, I’m about to graduate from uni, after all these years of physics… And the “now what” ghost is haunting me, which isn’t half as bad as all these “you have such an awesome opportunity”… Keep up the boring things I hate or to hell with it?

I was sitting and thinking, does anyone know the RIGHT thing to do?! So I guess I was waiting to stumble upon something like this.

Super! Thanks a lot :) I would give you a hug but I can’t.

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Carla Milo February 24, 2010

Awesome post. Just what I needed today. I’ve been in a funk and really at this point I have been seriously considering consulting the “magic 8 ball” for advice. I can’t seem to make any decisions. None of them feel right.

I’m 35 and was more together at 19. I was stupid when I was 19. I had the corporate job – I got promoted I played along (well kind of) and the more money I made the more miserable I felt. I felt like I was playing dress up, not the fun kind of dress up with tu-tus and vintage accessories. I was expected to trade my charming personality in for a job and to me thats not what I consider living your life.

In addition to my severe allergic reaction to khaki pants and polos with logos on them that were conveniently never available in my size I am also very detail oriented and it wasnt hard for me to figure out how things really worked.

Working your way to the top doesnt really exist. They dangle that carrot in front of you to make you work harder then pull the rug out from underneath you just as you are about to take a bite. The true formula for corporate sucess is:

You have to know people who know people, babe and if you dont know people, blow people. Make sure you get a nice clear video so you have a nice bargaining tool to get what you deserve.

Being that calculating and hooking up with unstylish overweight perverts just to get an impressive title, office and raise seemed like way too much work. It would be easier to just be a high priced call girl – you will still have to blow people but you will have control of your wardrobe and lots of free time.

So after years of sexual harassment, back stabbing, law suits, working long hours so some fat white guy can live the good life, lay offs, “restructuring”, being forced to work my way up to prove myself at every new job because of my refusal to change who I am when clearly I was qualified or I wouldn’t have received an offer letter I decided to walk away.

I became a dog walker. Hands down dog walking is the best job I have ever had. No one cares what you wear, everyone is always happy to see you and to those dogs you’re a hero with a leash and dog treats. Thats the kind of moral I like. Since the economy has been so terrible dog walking slowed down and its been hard to get by.

I feel like I reached a dead end. I am exhausted thinking about it and im paralyzed with fear because I have no more resources to fix anymore bad decisions. I have basically lost everything – the car, the beautiful apartment, a savings account, etc. I am overwhelmed and have no support system (unless you consider a 13 year old dog a good support system) and I dont want to be lost or going in circles anymore – Not even Google maps had a route to get me out of my directionally challenged life.

The only sensible thing for me to do is go back to doing something that was just something I did for fun fine tune my skills and work my ass off at something that doesnt even pay until you make a real name for yourself… comedy.

The icing on my cake of failure is so sweet but ill never be asked to dress like a corporate jack ass or be somebody I’m not. I feel successful just knowing I didnt sell my soul (or body) to the corporate jack asses that give me oh so much to write about.

Thanks for sharing your story.

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Vanessa April 12, 2010

Well this makes me feel good about my decision then. I am planning on moving cities and I was wondering if at some point, it was going to be a bad idea. The idea is that if I move, I won’t get to live in my mom’s house and I was worried about having resposibility again. But then I remembered that the only thing in this world I love is to see new places and I’ve spent far too much time in Dallas to enjoy that anymore. Waiting tables is a lowsy job, but it allows for mobility. I have a college degree, but for now, I just want to relax before I ruin my traveling spirit in a corporate job.

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Amanda Campiolo June 8, 2010

Thank you Chris. I have a good corporate job and since I’ve never finished my degree everybody thinks it would be crazy to leave it. But bottom line is: Im not happy there. I have just been offered a job at a spa who will provide me with sufficient income, and MOST importantly TIME and FREEDOM for myself; to go back to school or simply to find out what I want and like. Peer expectation will never pay off for the 2 1/2 years I’ve been unhappy on my current job.

Thank you again for sharing your experiences and wisdom.

Amanda

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Beauchamp June 14, 2010

What a great article, thanks for sharing your story

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fatz June 15, 2010

hi chris! i may not be a college/student anymore but im actually on that situation. i really put money as one of the things to consider on pursuing my dreams but its only when i read your blog that it hit me on the head and eventually realizes that its me who can only answer my life-nagging questions about when, where, what to do to reach my dreams! i am 26 and still am afraid to go after my dreams but im moving and trying one step at a time to reach it… i hope its not too late though… anyway thank you for sharing your insights and for making a difference in peoples lives.

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Angela June 21, 2010

Chris,

I love your advice and your style of writing. It’s like listening to a real person tell a real story and pulling it altogether to make sense.

I too have been what I like to call a “victim of traditional values” – trying to do the right thing according to what everyone else believes we are supposed to do. People get married because thats what their parents did. People get caught up in mortgages they cannot afford because they don’t feel like they are the “portrait of success” unless they “own” a home. Every time some huge appliance breaks or something goes wrong in my rental like the AC or an electrical or plumbing problem arises, or my landlord receives a fine or new tax hike, I rejoice over the fact that I don’t “own” my home.

In other words, another person’s happiness may not necessarily be your happiness.

Thanks for the great articles!

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roselle egida July 9, 2010

mistakes are inevitable.. but if we’re capable enough to analyze them and make the right decisions and solutions to avoid them, then we’re able to move on from it and live a new and more peaceful life.

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David August 3, 2010

I am happy to read your stuff from Kenya.

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ReMat August 6, 2010

I am about to make the biggest decision next week, something that bothers me for some time now. Today, I am celebrating my 2nd year working as an English teacher in Thailand (August 2010). Life in Thailand has given me so much experiences. It’s a pretty good life. I don’t earn much money, but life here is great. I am able to experience luxuries of time, freedom and a “no stress” work. Life here is GREAT. I am happy living here. Thailand is a complete duplicate of my home country except for the language. Now, I don’t know if I will continue my third year in Thailand. I love the life outside my work, but the work itself, it’s just “OK”. I like the freedom my employers are giving me. 4-month paid vacation, 26 hour teaching load per week. I mean, where can you find that on earth! I guess I love my freedom more than my profession. Now, I don’t know if it is worthy to go back home, change career, something more related to my degree. Part of my heart says, I want to pursue something in line with what I studied.

Now, I don’t know if it would be right to go back home. I don’t think my career will grow in Thailand, but I just love the way I live my life here. This country is a slice of heaven on earth.

This is my first ever job (I’m 24), and I don’t know what my decision will be. At this age, I feel that I have to start my career already, something that I will do for the rest of my life. I know, this isn’t the job for me. But at this age too, I love the things I am able to do outside my work, especially traveling, something that I won’t be able to do when I go back home. I will also forgo my independence. I am really having a hard time making a decision. I really wanted to follow my heart, but yeah, which part of my heart will I follow? I don’t know If I made sense here, but I would appreciate any thoughts you have right now.

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Paul Rossiter August 12, 2010

Thanks – sound advice at this moment in time. Atlanta sounds great. The UK is a bit smaller than the USA and it seem harder to find nice places full of life. I will find my place soon though, hope you have founds yours

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Sherry August 25, 2010

thank you for your honesty and bluntness, if there was a way to click “Like” I would :o)

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anonymous August 27, 2010

I think I just got the answer to my question. Screw being practical and do what you wanna do. If it costs you time or money, it’s better than costing you your happiness.

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Brian Ramdhan September 3, 2010

There is a lot of pressure to get a job when you graduate from college. I agree with you on that. Nice post.

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Jinny September 7, 2010

i wish i still believed all this stuff were true. but at the end of the day job=money, no work=poverty. poverty is not fun.

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sumeet basu September 14, 2010

Screw money – it’s not you,just follow ur heart while making decisions,follow experiences,be pragmatic only when needed,we will be very happy,is what i conclude after reading this blog from u mr.chris.really very nicely written,appreciated

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Aoruk November 18, 2010

So true. Coming from a traditional/pragmatic family, I grew up worrying about how friends and relatives perceive me. Like you, I also realized that I shouldn’t be listening to people who have different talents/skills/interests. I should’ve noticed earlier that they weren’t really “content”.

After 9 years, I finally left the corporate rut. No amount of money could ever buy you peace of mind. Being true to oneself is the only way to go.

Thank you for writing this article. I wish I read this years ago.

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Christine January 2, 2011

Wow great entry Chris – stumbled upon it when I googled “did I make the right decision”, because I just made one to move to another continent for my first job ever (this happens a few months later) and have been hearing terrible stuff from some relatives who think that I’ve made a dumb decision. Basically they want me to stay where I am, marry a guy of my skin colour and live in the same city forever. I don’t hate that but I hate how they force their ideals on me. I’ve been wondering if I am doing something so radical just to get as far away from them as possible or if I really do want this. I’m starting to doubt myself and I don’t know what makes me happy anymore – doing what I thought I wanted or not upsetting people around me who I care about. Doesn’t help that it also happens to be a corporate job, too – seems to be evil-ized by the commentators on this page. Now I’m wondering if I’m making a mistake.

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Chris Pearson January 2, 2011

Christine, it sounds to me like you’re looking for the same kind of journey that I was a couple of years ago.

In 2008, I completely changed the direction of my life by moving from Louisville, KY to Los Angeles, CA—a place where I had no friends or acquaintances. I also know that, at the time, my family thought I was crazy :D

Although corporate jobs are regarded as somewhat evil around here, I would argue that your journey is what’s most important.

By moving away from your family and support group, you will be forcing yourself to re-create your life from scratch. You’ll have to consider every possession that you have, every friend that you make, and every action that you take.

In my experience, this has been the single most valuable thing in my life, and I think your journey will produce similar results for you, too!

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Christine January 3, 2011

Chris, thanks for the quick reply… that was really enlightening. You’re absolutely right, the journey’s the most important (not to mention unpredictable and exciting) part. I guess we can never really figure life out, we just have to take action and react to what happens next. :) Thanks once again for replying and have a best new year!

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ida January 4, 2011

Hello Chris, very inspiring post indeed. It clicked right through my life experience.

After i finished high-school and didn’t know what to do with my life, i followed my ex-boyfriend’s advice of entering Social Relations and Publicity, Journalism College. All i knew was that i wanted to write. I even took lessons for entering that college with a professor that was teaching there. She gave me lots of homework to write, and as i brought back the written articles, she told me they are fantasy and that i should get more realistic. I thought it was my fault for writing bad. Anyway, i persevered thinking of no other option.
I entered college “at distance” because i didn’t meet the requierments, the proper writing standards. Meanwhile, i was aware that i had to work as i had no one to support me, so i followed again a friend’s advice and ended up fashion stylist for many magazines in my country.
Now, the truth, in my case, is this. I used to smoke a lot of marijuana with my ex, and after 1 year, when i had to enter college, i developed a “me above all understand everything” and “the rest of people don’t”, belief packed up with judging tendencies about working as a corporate employer or working as a bartender to support yourself. So i judged the corporate ladder as well as the “common” jobs”.
Secondly, my teacher at the college that i took lessons from, was so preoccupied with following her dream of writing at Herald’s Tribune that didn’t take the care to tell me: You, dear, are not suitable for this college. Wait another year or think about something else.
Of course, it was my responsibility, but there were outside influences that partook the process and these influences are sometimes very powerful.
After 5 years spent earning reasonable money, getting a reasonable reputation doing something i hated, and finishing a college i hated, i tried to lick my wounds and say that individualism is what got me in the first place making the wrong decisions. (this includes the use of marijuana)
i was surrounded by artists and quirky people that didn’t give a damn about the others, as i was myself.
Nowadays i realize, at 26 years, after moving to Jordan from Romania, in a corporate business (very different from what i worked before), that every job is good as long as you respect yourself.
What’s wrong with doing paperwork? Nothing, i tell you, because the excessive individualism gets people thinking that is miserable. There is also nothing wrong with a “corporate ladder” climb-up, as long as you cherish what you have and be content that you do a fine good job for yourself. My grandfather worked 40 years to get to a medium position in a solid firm, and he was very capable.
I also realized this when i got to Jordan and saw that people respect paperwork, banks, writers, artists, and basically everyone that is working.
And the final lesson, the great one that i learned, is that i now bend my head to superiors, agree with them always, and when i think there should improvements, i tell them. The basic line being that whatever you do, whether you like it or not, accept it for the time being and make the best of it. Be proud of yourself that you’re doing THE RIGHT THING.
If you are surrounded by people telling you that making money is good and pragmatism is valuable, think about the other extreme representing people that say money is crap and that you don’t need it. Either way is not respecting what God has given on this planet, that means resources, of whatever kind, and people, and not respecting yourself, actually. When i entered any of these extremes i ended up blaming the system, the people or the damn weed. I was mocking actually life, and life was mocking me.
Hopefully, respect and moral principles, the most valuable assets that develop character, and that require longtime balance and patience, will develop more in my heart so that i can take decisions based on truth whatever the situation, to also be able to give the advices that i didn’t receive.

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sudeep January 8, 2011

very good…KEEP WRITING dude…!!!

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david January 27, 2011

love this post

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Gagel February 9, 2011

Hey Chris….long time no talk. I haven’t read your blog, but Chris has told me about your success so I finally came here to check it out for myself. Love this article. Your a role model for what it means to grow as a human being. Money is great (God knows I probably like it to much!), but don’t sacrifice the JOURNEY! I find my self both inspired and reminded of some of my most valuable learning experiences at the same time. Keep up the good work from an old friend.

Jeff Gagel

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Virginia May 5, 2011

Chris!! Congratulation!!! It is great to see that there are out there people like me;) not being practical just doing what make them happy;) actually it is the most pratical thing in order to satisface with ur life:)
Keep writing and learning!!!
Greetings from Spain!

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Preethi June 1, 2011

Chris,

Recently found your website. (Dang! where was I?) As many of the readers, even I do relate with the situation. A software engineer turned happy copywriter : )

Thanks for sharing, ciao!

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Zebra June 10, 2011

I have a strong personality and I know who I am. I am choosing between two universities right now. One with the better program, more spirit, and a smaller learning environment. And another which would allow me to expand my interests. The first, is further away (which is better for me) but the downside is my sister went there. She had an amazing time and told me ALL the details. I know I can be myself, an individual anywhere but I also want my own experiences. Is it a bad idea to choose the harder option based on the idea that I have already “experienced” all the good things that the first school has to offer??

By the way I am going into Engineering and after I would like to mix that with Fine Art. Weird I know but I told ya I was different :)

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Lauren June 10, 2011

I googled “am I making the right decision?” and this is what came up…. and it really helped me. Although I am 10 years past college graduation, my decision concerns risking money and my happiness. Thank you for the advice…. whoever you are.

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Captain August 12, 2011

I recently got a scholarship at the college of Economics and Commerce. i was happy at first, but then i had no clue of what, i never enjoyed business before.

All my years of studying i always wanted to become a commercial airline Pilot, I always smiled when i see an airplane pass by, my parents always say “That’s your future my son”. But now i see no hope of becoming one, the expenses are to high, and i would save money if i attend that college which would be payed fully.

I tried asking my dad for advice, he told me everyone has a dream job, but not so many get them, life is tough and i just have to live with it. I am good at business studies, but i would enjoy the career of flying. my decision would seem clear (especially after reading your blog). but i still have some doubts, please help

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Christine August 13, 2011

@Captain
Is this your dream or your parents dream? I don’t think everyone has just one “dream” job. What you think is your dream job might not be right for you. This sounds trite, but everything does happen for a reason. I wanted to do a million things before I grew up, like being a research scientist, an engineer or law. I ended up doing business and enjoyed it a lot – and now I found my true “dream” job. Life is a journey. If you know how to adapt your situation to the route that you take, you’d end up enjoying all these new experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed. If you stick strictly to just one thing, you’d find that you’d end up being really miserable, wondering why everything is working against you. Live life. It will surprise you more often than not.

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Captain August 13, 2011

Thank you so much Christine :)

I think i would go ahead and do Business, Your comment really inlighted me, i guess i have to try new stuff in life, i might enjoy the new stuff more than the one’s i usually do.
Also thanks for the quick reply, i was lost and needed help fast.

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mark August 16, 2011

Hey every1, on a slightly different note. I’m just looking for some advice. I’m from Belfast in northern Ireland. 25 years old. Was with a girl for almost 3 years when we split, it was a hard breakup. I also play in a band and have so many good friends. I recently seen my ex, she told me has never got over me and still loves me. In the last 10months (when we broke up) she has saved a lot of money, which she intends to use to go to Canada to travel, she told me she only ever wanted me to go with her. How do I make a decision like this? To leave all my friends and the quite successful band to be with her and travel or stay here and carry on knowing I may b missing what will shape the rest of my life?? Or I’d I go with her am I missing what my life is becoming with my friends and the band right now. Maybe this is what is shaping my life. How do I make the right decision for myself and so as not to hurt any1 in the process. I hav a steady job too but its not wat I wanna do forever, driving a forklift truck. Any advice would b greatly appreciated. Cheers people.
Mark.

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Chris Pearson August 16, 2011

Mark, do not, under any circumstances, throw away your current life to be with that girl.

The most important thing in your life is your own creativity and output, and from the sound of it, this has a lot more to do with your band than it does this girl.

Let her go. Years from now, you’ll be happy you did, and best of all, you’ll appreciate the wonderful woman of your future that much more.

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mark August 16, 2011

Thanks for the advice Chris. Just find this a very hard decision. My life right now, even with the band and friends is far from perfect or very constructive. The other point I didn’t mention before was that I’m still deeply in love with this girl and have only pictured myself ending up with her forever,also I had been contemplating a change in my life and maybe travelling and seeing the world b4 I’m too old. I really am torn and don’t want to make this choice lightly or end up with more regrets. Thanks for quick reply!
Mark.

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Chris Pearson August 16, 2011

Mark, I understand your position, but you’re only 25 years old.

If you want to see the world, you have all the tools you need to make that happen. You don’t need to rely on anyone else for the ambition to make it a reality—it’s completely up to you.

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mark August 16, 2011

Thanks mate.
I appreciate your time and another perspective!
Mark.

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zohaib September 11, 2011

hey Chris Pearson, i recently did post about myself, i would like to keep my privacy , and i know it is not the right blog to post in such stuff, but i went to high court recently and i had a good experience i was ready to committ myself in hands of law but i think god does’nt want that to happen, lucky it rained hard and many staff went off . So i kept quiet and didnt say anything about my past experience , even though i had a 13 year imprisonment in school and strict disciplined parents , and wat i did later on in my college life, but i think i have made a right decision to go to court , i went there coz i am failed in some case and file a petition against a university, but luckily its not like we see in the movies , i have made a research , to recognize which person is abused in childhood , that person will scream at nite while sleeping in dreams , coz i do that mostly every nite and my mom informs me about , either i will scream Allah or mom, dad , brother etc etc, asking for help, i just did commit something stupid and i just made another dumb act i went close to my homemaid , showed her blue movies , she is married and then i tried to touch her , she was smiling but also got feared at start and she literally start speaking like a child saying ” mom mom ” though she was contacting my mom, i instintly understood the fact and i started smiling and making her smile too, she was then ok, and from next and till now i have not contacted her , again thinking i have made one more foolish mistake , coz i think i will loose all the respect in the society and that will not be good, so my fked up life is more fked up .

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Cherie November 21, 2011

Well done!!!!

I am a lot older then most of you and never went to collage. I left home at 17 from a small town to the big city and found myself several different jobs for a couple of years supporting myself, having a great time with people you meet on the way. Saved some money and by the time I was 19yrs I traveled from New Zealand to Australia where I travel for three years picking up work and really living life on the edge. Traveling on your own is not always easy and I was the type that was way to proud to ask for any help, saying that the universe always seems to have a way in looking after you. Some times just meeting the right people at the right time. Since then I have never settled down and move on an average every two years, my son who is 19yrs went to eight different schools before he hit University and is now doing his second yr of Uni in Japan and hopes to be in China next year.

The point I am making is that it is too easy to fall in the mundane way of life. I have meet so many people that have lived in the same house some for 30yrs and some for 50yrs yet alone tried a new city or country. I believe to really experience life you need to get out of your comfort zone and make an effort to open your eyes and learn off your new neighbors each time. Be open to changes and possibilities. The world is your oyster, start looking at the glass half full and say to yourself “you know what I am free to do what I like, where there is a way there is a means” take the walk of life do not watch it go by and 20, 30yrs down the track you will have something to look back on and hopefully be able to smile at all those adventures that have lead you to where you are.

Follow your passions and the rest will come…….good fortune, money and prosperity……this is called the flow on effect…..you have just one life make good use of it……..

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Ammy December 3, 2011

And this got me to thinking about the big decisions that i have to make!!
However is so nice, and so great your post! I wanna do so many things!! well, maybe some day! :)

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john August 9, 2012

Wow, it really is fascinating how piople how may come distinct cultures and backgrounds share some much in common. I want to thank you very much for the awesome article it has helped me tremendously.

Im an MD from El salvador and am deciding whether to go back and practice or keep studying here, my dilemma is that my children and wife are back home,i love practicing and miss medicine but here i cannot practice without jumping through many loops i am 43 and not young anymore.

Anyway thank you very much.

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mairingallagher August 26, 2012

Thank you sweetheart for this advice ,i didnt have the courage 30 years ago as i had a baby ,and she came first ,i am now at a crossroads ,not brill health but your post really helped .
Mairin

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