Note: This is a guest post written by one of my really really really really ridiculously good looking friends whom is pursuing something of a dual career in that of Cognitive Psychology and Software Development. I suspect at some point he’ll be doing a similar re-eval as to what he talks about in his post in order to figure out which path he’ll stay on.
Some of you may know me, some of you may not, I’m just hear sharing a few thoughts I have. Expect me to go on tangents and to expand on what I’ve mentioned. In particular, about the way we glide through time.
A REFLEXIVE EXISTENCE
I’m sure you can think of someone you know who wakes up, goes to work, the gym, maybe school on a schedule you could set your watch to.
During these activities we’re so familiar with, we don’t even really have to think anymore – just react – and we slip through time in a reflexive existence. We are merely reacting to the things around us.
In some cases, this is a great thing. It would be a pain in the ass to have to actively think about breathing, or making our heart beat, or even executing a concert of muscle movements like jogging or playing an instrument. Our brain makes heuristics to get us through the day and allow us to survive.
This is not just with physical things like driving, but also our social interactions. This is why occasionally you’ll ask someone, “Hey, how’ve you been?” and they’ll respond “Oh, not much.” You’ll kind of sit there and blink, before they realized that wasn’t the question you were asking.
Sure, we make big decisions about which college major we’re going to choose or which jobs we apply to, but even then some of these decisions aren’t as much ours as we’d like them to be. Everyone knows the stereotypical asian pushed into one of the engineering majors just because that’s what their parents expect. (No evil intent towards my asian friends, you guys are awesome no matter what major.)
The point is that sometimes decisions that appear our own are quite out of our hands. I mean, how many people do you know that have perfect emotional self control? Or have you ever noticed there are fewer thoughts in your head after a few beers?
THE DECISIVE EXISTENCE
The point being, a decisive existence requires a clarity of thought and an expanse of un-harassed time. And it’s not something we’d want to do all the time. A decisive existence is something you need to harness when it is time to set new ways.
A period of decisive existence is what you use to make important life decisions like choosing a grad school, a career path, or moving abroad. It’s what you use to alleviate dissatisfaction when it invades and your life needs a change. And it’s what you should use periodically to evaluate your current life position, and decide the little adjustments that you need.
THE WHEN – REEVALUATING LIFE
So, on to the bigger questions: How? When? The simple answer is, figure it out for your damn self. But if you want pointers/observations, you can keep reading.
When is the easier question, so, let’s start there.
When you first find a niche that’s made for you and fits you like a glove, you’re allowed to try it out for a while. However, after a period of time, you must reevaluate. People don’t change that often, but sometimes the way we see ourselves isn’t necessarily the most accurate. So, between not being and finding out who we think we are, being who others think we are, and all the changing that goes on in between, it’s not that bad to reevaluate your position.
If, after thinking about it and evaluating things, you decide that you want to stay exactly where you are, you probably don’t need to check as often.
But if you are, or have recently gone through some big life changes, you should consider a reeval.
THE HOW – REEVALUATING LIFE
How do you check? Well that’s troublesome.
It”s hard enough to sort out what you want, without on top of that having to try to figure out why you want it. That’s what brutal introspection’s for. But remember, it’s ok to be selfish. It’s ok to not be a perfect person. You are who you are, and that’s just that. This is your life!
If you aren’t who you want to be, then now is a good time to set a goal to change yourself.
You also might want to look at social pressure from parents, from friends, from significant others. You need to make the decision between keeping the social connection unstrained, and thus accepting many of these social pressures, and acting in your own self-interest, thus resisting them to be who you want to be. It’s always going to be complicated.
That leads to one more important…
Probably the most important thing I can ever tell you
Living life the way you want is a hard thing to do. Don’t sweat it if you make mistakes or you can’t quite do it correctly. Part of being human is making mistakes. The part that really counts is that even if you don’t make progress, you just have to keep trying. It doesn’t have to be right away, you’re allowed to take breaks to recover your will to endure. Just don’t give up. And forgive yourself.
It’s totally the way to go.