- Long term, which one matters the most to you?
At the very heart of the primary question, is this: Which is the most important to you long term? To answer this question you will need 3 basic elements:
- Brutal honesty
It’s these seemingly simple questions that will require the most profound levels of honesty you can find inside of you. The difference between honesty and brutal honesty is that the latter only comes in black or white. Some questions in life give you the luxury of answering with varying shades of certainty. This question is not that. This requires a clear cut answer. In addition to that, your honesty will need to be joined by intelligence and maturity.
You will need to be at your sharpest and not distract yourself with semantics or trivialities. Confront the question head on. Is this relationship really worth it? Is it really this job that will validate my life? Is this the one that puts everything else in my life in second place? Is this the relationship that fulfills my true expectations, or at least has the potential to? Is this job a solid long term option, or would it be a wild gamble? Hey, nothing wrong with a gamble in life, but a good gambler always knows what’s at stake and that they can lose it all. Once you have your answer, maturity is what will make you follow through with it.
- Prioritize based on fragility
Sometimes it’s not about what’s most important, but about what is closest to breaking point. You could say, go for the one that needs it the most, and ask for the patience of the other two. How many times have you been at the back of the queue in your own life? Work, partner, family, friends all whizzed past you, getting your attention first, while you gave yourself no time.
There will be times when you will need to ask your partner to take the back seat while you do some soul searching. You will at some point need to let your boss know you won’t be able to go full steam this month. It’s not always about the most important thing in your life, but about the one that needs it right now.
- This will not be a choice you will only make once
This will be a cyclical situation in your life. This question is not a one off. And by the way, this is actually a good thing. This allows you to give a specific time frame to the decision you are going to make and not get stuck with it. Set a clear start and end date, before you reassess again. You could say, I will choose for my job from now until the end of the year. I need to finish this year strong, and starting next year I will devote more time to myself and my partner.
Long term relationships will surely encounter those moments where work will need to be put aside altogether. With some jobs you might get away with it for a while, with others you might have to drastically cut the hours, or quit them altogether.
Whatever choice you make, you will inevitably have to make it again and again throughout the course of your life. With each iteration, hopefully you can identify the things you can change for the next time to make it easier on you. All those improvements add up through the years making this process a little bit easier, although it never is easy.
- Which one loves me back the most
If you choose this as your main criteria for making a selection, then there must be a good reason behind it. It would be the easiest to think this is pure unashamed self interest, which could very well be, but it could also signal a deeper longing. One more virtuous. The longing of genuinely mattering to someone, perhaps even obtaining a sense of purpose as well. When we are given love, it makes us feel wanted, important, that we matter in the big picture of another entity.
This would not be my leading criteria, but it would certainly play a relevant role in my decision making process -perhaps bigger than I might give it credit for.
- What would Frank Farmer do?
Frank Farmer was the character played by Kevin Costner in the film The Bodyguard. I was awestruck by this persona. He embodied everything I admired in a person. Honest, loyal to death (literally), down to earth, kind, and genuine. Very often, our heroes are projections of those we would like to become. They provide a blueprint, or a palpable objective for us to follow.
The reasons why we admire the people we do may contain volumes of information about ourselves, our inner longings, and unrealized expectations. There is a more profound reason why we deeply admire someone than just a simple click. Admiration reveals a connection between the one who wants to be, and the one who is.
I often “invite” Frank Farmer to my living room. We have a chat about life, and when the right moment comes along, I ask him about the tough questions of life.
Who is your Frank Farmer? Who do you admire? Invite this person to your space, and ask them, “What should I do?” You will certainly hear something worth listening to.
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