Choices We Make

Having recently had two nephews graduate—one from culinary school and the other from university—it got me thinking about choices. In life, we are constantly making choices and some are meaningful and some are just ordinary events but even the ordinary choices can have consequences.

I used to do a lot of college recruiting when I worked at Marriott and one of the questions I always asked was why the student had chosen that particular college. I wanted to hear that they’d researched their field of study and this school had a good reputation in that field or that the school had a Nobel Prize winning professor whom they might be able to learn from. Of course, that isn’t a question with a “right” answer. What I wanted to hear was how this student went about making decisions.

I heard a lot of answers—many were well thought out decisions while others told me they chose this school because it had a good football team or that their high school love interest went there or it was close to home and they could commute. None of these were “wrong” answers—but I learned something from the answers anyway.

Then, graduates are faced with the decision of whether to go on to graduate school or enter the workforce. If they opt for grad school, where should they go? If they opt for work, should they go back to their home town and live with Mom and Dad while putting money away to get an apartment or try to go it alone or with friends? What job to choose (if offered) is the next big choice to make and that’s one people agonize over when I don’t think they should—because rarely do first jobs meet expectations—it is still a choice that has to be made.

Choosing where to go to school, what to study, and where to live can have a huge impact on what happens later in life. This brings up what is usually the next big choice we make and that is to choose a life partner. Many people meet in college or at a job. I was reminded of this recently when Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg died so suddenly of a freak accident on a treadmill. If you’ve read her wonderful book, Lean In, you know she says that choosing a life partner is the most important choice we make and she talked with great passion about Dave and how he was the right choice for her so she could have the career and life she’s had with him as a full partner. I am sad for her now as she faces going forward without him to raise her young children and continue to be COO at Facebook or wherever her career takes her.

We make choices throughout our lives—where to live, where to worship, where to work, where to travel, who to be friends with, where to volunteer, where to retire…the list is endless. I hope you embrace the choices you’ve made and will make and don’t have a lot of regrets! Life is precious and to be lived to the fullest—each and every day!

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