This is a guest post by Rebekah Bastian.
As you navigate your personal and professional life, you’ll be hit with decisions that feel both life-changing and overwhelming:
- Should you take a boring job that pays well, or one that’s less stable but emotionally fulfilling?
- Should you move across the country with the love of your life, or stay where you already have friends and family?
- Should you pursue costly fertility treatments or let nature decide?
- Should you be a working mother or stay home with your children?
The sheer quantity of decisions that lie ahead is the only thing you can predict with certainty. But regardless of what you choose—or what the outcomes of those choices may be—you’re going to be all right. There is no one right approach to navigating your life. The real question is: how can you tackle life in ways that will optimize your fulfillment, success, and happiness?
Be yourself. And don’t take yourself too seriously.
You have a long life ahead of you. Spending that time pretending to be someone you aren’t will be exhausting and unsustainable. Don’t try to keep a poker face. Speak up and share your perspectives. Show your emotions. It’s ok to go against the grain and take the path less traveled—even the one less recommended.
And try not to take yourself too seriously. If you’re able to laugh at yourself and recognize your own imperfections, other people will feel safer being themselves around you, too. We’re all just humans trying to get stuff done; let’s be who we are and try to laugh it off.
Have an outlet.
It’s so important to fill some of your time with something that inspires and recharges you (even if it takes some maneuvering to find that time). Creating space to recharge—through creative, physical, social, or emotional outlets—will keep you grounded and revitalized.
Creative outlets foster passion in other parts of our lives. Physical outlets allow us to let off steam and keep us healthy. Social outlets give us the solidarity and support we need. And emotional outlets, such as therapy, meditation, and introspection, help us navigate the feelings and stresses we experience throughout our lives.
Do it all…if you want to.
“Doing it all” is relative—not everyone thrives from juggling 87 balls in the air at once. It doesn’t matter how much you do; what matters is that you’re doing all of the things that are important to you.
Want to pour yourself into your career? Do it. Want to have babies? Great! Want to moonlight as a go-go dancer? Why not? (Just don’t put it on LinkedIn). Check in with yourself to make sure you’re fulfilled and healthy and adjust accordingly. You’re the only one who can decide how many or what roles you want to fill your life with.
As meta as this sounds—a list about making lists!—lists remind us to act intentionally and stay on top of things, particularly as we fill our lives with responsibilities, challenges, and goals.
Your lists might include “To Do” lists or “To Think About” lists for everything that needs a follow-up. You might have lists of goals and aspirations. Lists of people to check in with. Writing everything down can help you plan your time and visualize your accomplishments. While privilege and luck still play a significant role in many of life’s outcomes, setting your mind to something—on a long-term list of what you want to have happen—is the best step toward realizing it.
I definitely don’t claim to have the meaning of life figured out, but I have a strong hunch that it’s all about love. If you surround yourself with love, and feel grateful for it, I’m pretty sure you won’t have too many regrets. If you let love guide you when you are faced with difficult decisions, you’re more likely to end up in a place that nurtures and fulfills you in the long run.
As you forge your path through life, don’t worry too much about where you’re ultimately going to end up. Life is hard to predict. If you laser focus on a destination, you may limit the unpredictable opportunities and experiences that could come your way. Instead, find the guideposts that let you stay true to your values and identities, and take the decisions as they come. You’ve got this.
About the Guest Post Author:
Rebekah Bastian is the author of the first interactive choose-your-own story for millennial and Gen Z women, Blaze Your Own Trail: An Interactive Guide to Navigating Life with Confidence, Solidarity, and Compassion. An author, mentor, mother, vice president at Zillow Group, and CEO of OwnTrail.com, Bastian speaks and writes on the complex life paths of women and creating social impact through technology. Learn more at owntrail.com.