“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” Robert Frost wrote in the poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Have you been there, faced with a tough decision or at a crossroad in your life? And if so, did you take the road less traveled or did you follow the path where the ground had been cleared and maybe just a little bit easier to traverse?
I have found myself at that point on more than one occasion, a true crossroad in my life. And maybe it’s the closet poet in me and that I’m a huge fan of Robert Frost, but in most cases, I seem to take the road less traveled. In most cases it has served me well and set me on a new course, adventurous tour or wild ride. And just as the poem reads, “that has made all the difference.”
And then there have been those few times where I followed the masses, accepted the easy path, went along to get along and found myself either bored or disappointed, always wondering what would have been or could have been had I chosen the road less traveled.
Not following the masses
You see, I am not a very good “yes” man and when I find myself at a decision point, especially a critical decision point, I need to be able to evaluate my options and determine what most others might choose to do and dig deeper into the “why” behind their decisions. And this is what usually triggers my decision to try an alternate route.
Write it down
When people share with me where they are in the crossroads of their own life, I often encourage them to take the time to clearly write out all of the options — all of the pros and cons — and to visualize each option as if they actually made the decision to pursue that option. What is the best possible outcome? What is the worst possible outcome? What are they willing to live with or accept? And what are the non-negotiables or things they are not willing to compromise?
Consider risks of the road less traveled
Some people are facing serious crossroads about their jobs, relationships and friendships, or new business ventures. And although we talk about all of the options, pros and cons, and possible outcomes, we also discuss the inherent risks involved with taking the road less traveled.
It is extremely important when committing to a path that we carefully weigh all of the risks as well as all of the upsides. It is very easy to see all the potential and amazing possibilities because that is how many of us believe we are programmed. And I strongly encourage that we take this positive attitude and approach because as we see it and believe it, we can achieve it. But we need to balance that optimistic outlook with the potential risks and downside.
Find advisers you trust
This is why when we are faced with a decision or at a crossroad, we should surround ourselves with strong friends, wise advisers and people we absolutely trust to be our sounding board and help us walk through our options and thought processes around each important decision we need to make.
Do I take more risks than I should? Yes. Are they educated guesses? In most cases. Do I follow my heart and my gut, and attempt to balance that with what is going through my head? Yes. But at the end of the day, as Robert Frost says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I would love to hear all about what you do at the crossroads of your life at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I really do believe that this will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of www.candogo.com. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.