Fork in the Freeway

We all come to forks in the road in our lives where we must make a critical decision that impacts the course of our lives. Sometimes we are aware of the decision and other times we don’t fully comprehend the consequences until much later.

I was cruising the freeway at a pleasant five over, focused on how quickly I could get to tomorrow when there was a temporary closure and a forced exit. Circumstances suddenly changed at my employer, leading to an unanticipated end to what I had believed was my course for many years to come.

The unexpected jolts, accidents, and construction zones in our lives force us to consider new opportunities. In the past, the fork in the road might leave two or three realistic options. Instead, we live in a time with immediate access to people and knowledge from around the globe, world-class education nearby or from the comfort of anywhere on any device, and a virtually limitless ability to monetize any hobby, skill, or pursuit. The result is constant opportunity. Every few minutes we pass an exit or an on-ramp that could take us somewhere new or back to familiar. Every few hours, an interchange with eight different options.

No longer do we make three or four major decisions that determine our life experience: our career, who to marry, how many children to have, where to live. Our daily minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour choices can continuously drive us toward our goals and dreams, or they can maintain the status quo through indecision and fear. 70 miles per hour on a seven-lane freeway headed toward gridlock.

What’s the hurry? ¬†Will life really be so much better when we have put 200,000 miles on the road and have finally worn down to the point of retirement in a gated community of old clunkers reliving the glory days from the Interstate?

What is the risk of living differently? To purposefully veer off onto dirt roads and through the mountains while everyone else sticks to asphalt and flat highways? I was happily headed toward a traffic jam until an external force recalculated my route. Luckily, just as I found my way to an on-ramp, there was a small dirt road taking off to the west and I took it.

As a type-A with an addiction to spreadsheets, I had quickly calculated the risk. I knew we would have to give up some luxuries and return to penny-pinching, that I would feel pretty isolated working from home, and that I would probably go stark-raving mad without the structure and speed of a high-level executive job. Turns out, everything I “knew” was wrong.

The “luxuries” I gave up?

  • A 75-minute commute during rush hour.
  • A $500 per month gas bill.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia on Sunday nights.
  • Working Saturday mornings at the local coffee shop.
  • 400-calorie $6 mochas while working at the local coffee shop.
  • Carpal-tunnel symptoms.
  • Back pain.
  • 10 extra stress-pounds.
  • Fake friends.

Far from being broke, I have not only personally experienced the wealth of time and mobility, but also the multiplication of income that comes from working in alignment with your strengths and passion. I also quickly discovered, as the last bullet above might suggest, that I was more isolated working in a crowd of surface friends than I could have ever been working alone. Beyond that, I am anything but alone. I immediately connected to a tribe of genuine and generous entrepreneurs that had already blazed many of the trails ahead of me.

I also discovered real luxury:

  • Enjoying the sunrise with a cup of coffee from my front porch (in my pj’s).
  • Reading books instead of email.
  • Taking an afternoon dip in the hot tub.
  • Treking up the mountain behind our cabin to alleviate writer’s block.
  • Spending hours instead of minutes playing with my kids every day.
  • Sleeping like an infant.
  • Forgetting what day it is.
  • Taking off on vacation without asking permission.
  • Signing up for “last minute” travel deals.

The Fork in the Freeway represents the opportunity to purposefully choose your direction and take advantage of the gift of living life like no one else. When will you take that exit?

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