Just under a year ago and on the day that I left my last job in politics, I wrote a short piece entitled “The Path of Life.”
The mini-manifesto was less intended for the eyes of others than it was a personal rallying cry that ultimately helped me decide to fully pursue my dreams and my passions rather side with what logic dictated.
Since writing the piece and having used the phrase “the path of life” a number times in reference to the general direction of our individual lives, I’ve come to believe that the phrase is a bit of a misnomer that wrongly implies that there is one, necessarily direct and linear direction in life.
A possible and dangerous consequence of that mindset is that it would seem to be quite detrimental to important decision-making processes, as men and women might be reluctant to make decisions that might take them off of the proverbial “path” that they believe they are obligated to continue following.
Having spoken with many friends about this very issue — the direction of life — I fear that the “path of life” misnomer might lead to and adversely affect the way that we consider and ultimately make important decisions that arise in our lives. As such, I want to offer the theory that there may be many different paths; all of which lead to the same, or at least a similar, destination.
“The Path” versus “A Solitary Path”
If there was a single tract upon which our lives would unfold, we may subsequently reason that much — if not all — of our lives have already been predetermined; largely scripted and unfolding according to the hand of fate, destiny, or the Creator.
Regardless of who or what you believe orchestrates some decisive influence over the lives of humans (even if you don’t believe in any outside or other-worldly influence, at all), operating under the premise that there is a solitary path of life for each of us would dictate that we have little choice other than to march it; we are obliged to stay confined within its boundaries.
The consequence of believing that we each have a single path, and a largely or wholly predetermined route to walk in life, is that we will be less inclined to make difficult decisions that alter our predisposed understanding of our intended direction. In other words, if we believe that the tough, life-altering decisions that arise in our lives (regarding our careers, livelihoods, relationships and more) might take us off or away from that solitary “path,” we may be significantly less willing to embark upon them — even when our hearts and heads tell us that we must.
Many Paths to the Same Destination
How many difficult decisions have you made that altered the notion of “where you are going” in life? For me, those decisions have been more numerous than I have fingers and toes. In college alone, I explored and foresaw various futures in a dozen different professional and academic fields, such as politics, political science (think tanks, consultation, etc.), the military, journalism, graduate school, law school, and others.
I began to undertake an understanding of many paths to the same destination — or at least a similar destination — regardless of the decisions we make and how our individual direction in life alters the way we get there. Operating under the belief that there wasn’t a single path that I had to walk, I more willing to make difficult decisions about my direction and career and trust that I would fulfill whatever mission I had in life.
Assuring yourself that there are “many paths to the same destination” is living with the belief that there are many different methods and means to become or achieve what we believe we ought to or desire to become or achieve in life.
Whether or not the numerous paths we take in life will actually lead to an exact or similar, ultimate outcome, we will obviously never know. But, I believe it is a better mindset to undertake, if only so we are more open-minded and fluid when it comes to decision-making in our careers and in our lives. It’s especially beneficial when the alternative is a mindset of stagnancy, hesitation, and reluctance to change.
What are your thoughts about this “many paths to the same destination” approach? Do you think it depends on your ultimate belief in fate or destiny?