You’ve heard the story a thousand times.
Two roads diverged in the woods, and the wanderer is forced to choose. One road has a bit more wear than the other, but aside from that, both paths look pretty good. What to do? Since you’ve heard the story, you probably know the ending.
After some deliberation, the wanderer chooses the road “less traveled by.” And that, we’re told, “has made all the difference.”
Great story! But did you ever think about what happened to the other road? Maybe it was just a common road, and the wanderer was right to place his foot on the freshly-fallen leaves where few had stepped before.
Or maybe not.
I have a theory that the other road was just as good. Maybe it was even better than the road less traveled by, but in the recollection of years gone by, the wanderer has revised his memory to conform to the experience he’s had since first choosing between roads.
There’s no way to know for sure, of course. But think about the paths you’ve chanced upon and the choices you’ve had to make. Would the other choice really have been so bad?
Then think about a time when you really did make a mistake or bad decision. As long as the world didn’t come to an end, you were probably able to find your way back to another path of your choosing.
The point isn’t to dwell on all the options available in life, or all the things that might have been.
Oh, and if you go down one path and then decide you’d prefer another… you can usually change that, too.
Whether less traveled by or well-trodden, there’s more than one possible path. Choose the one you want, and don’t stress about the others.
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.
Image courtesy of Biel Morro.