They say sometime in life we will approach the crossroads of life and be asked to make an important choice. “They” are somewhat optimistic. Just one sometime in life? We make important choices every day and anyone of them, insignificant though they may seem at the time, can be life changing.
Over the last few weeks Diem and Michael had approached minor crossroads that could have significant impacts on their lives. Diem had been assigned a major additional project at work and Michael is approaching an expiring lease and debating renewing versus moving. These are situations that millions face almost any day. One seemingly just part of the daily grind, and one a major crossroad. Can you tell which is which?
Diem’s new project is a fairly major project. She estimates the completed report intended to summarize her department’s activities for the most recent five years would run 40 pages or more complete with charts, graphs, and references. She had an internal deadline of one week for her bosses to review and comment before forwarding it to the requesting accrediting organization. As with most “other duties as assigned,” this is in addition to her regular duties which include a new program roll out due about the same time.
At first glance it doesn’t appear that Diem has a choice. She’s not at a crossroad at all. But there is a choice that must be made. Unless her day has several hours built into it for “things that just come up” (it doesn’t) something must be set aside so she can devote the time to complete the project and complete it on time. Does she take time from routine job functions? Does she take time from the new program roll out project that has the same deadline? Does she take time from her family to spend more time at work?
Michael’s choice at first glance would seem to life changing. This is a possible moving situation. Tours of potential new living spaces must be scheduled and attended. Finances reviewed and funds set aside for deposits, movers, and moving equipment. Change of address forms will be completed and banks, insurance companies, utilities, and service providers made known of the changes. Friends, relatives, and neighbors will be asking questions, some offering help, all offering advice. So much in all so little time.
Have you figured out who is facing the most significant crossroad?
Whatever decision Diem makes - take time from routine work, other projects, or her home life - the road she turns on will be taking her away from some other destination. She stands to alienate those with whom she works daily, those to whom she has committed to preparing a new process roll out, or those to whom she comes home every night after a long day at work and who are expecting her to be present with them when she is at home.
Whatever decision Michael makes – stay or move – affects him. It affects him greatly but it affects only him. The decision will have financial consequences, the cost of moving if nothing else. It will have lifestyle consequences, with different stores to shop, possibly different church for worship, possibly farther from physicians and other professional services. But he lives alone so the decision impacts him alone. People he works with, sees at the gym or at meetings will still be there. Friends and relatives may be nearer or farther but none significantly. The prospective new locations are all within the same general area. The time, energy, money, and whether the decision turns out to be good or bad are all his alone.
Two real life examples of crossroads people approach every day. One seemingly only a matter of some extra work needing to be done but whose impact of the time needed may be felt by many people, some not even involved with Diem’s work. One seemingly monumental, a major life decision, but one that can be easily rationalized and affects no one else except those who might want to send housewarming cards.
Every day brings decisions. Not all of them are life changing, and not all of them have far reaching consequences. Sometimes, the everyday decisions have the power to affect many people and the life changing ones affect only one. We make important choices every day and anyone of them, even the ones that may seem insignificant at the time, can be life changing. Avoid surprises. Treat them all as if they have the power to change your life. (They do!)