When you reach the fork in the road

Life is full of choosing which fork in the road to take. Some choices are life changing. Careful consideration of the options is imperative for successful living.

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  • One of the often quoted sayings by Yogi Berra, famed New York Yankees player and manager is, “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.” This quote brings much laughter because most people think of the normal outcome that each fork leads in a different direction. However when you know the origin of the quote you understand it in a different light. Yogi was giving directions to Joe Garagiola's New Jersey home that is accessible from both routes at the fork because they eventually merge again. Now you can say “Oh” from knowing what it means.

  • Mr. Berra took that saying and created a short charming book titled, "When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom From One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes." He recounts the various forks in the road he encountered and the result of each. He recounts the decision to become the manager of the New York Mets. He said, “I had a strong desire to take the Mets job, and did. I relished the challenge and never looked back. A year later, we won the National League pennant. I think that’s what all these graduation speakers mean when they quote me ... Make a firm decision. Make sure it feels right. Learn from the choice you make. Don’t second-guess yourself ― there’s no need to give yourself ulcers. But my advice on big life decisions is to get advice if you can. Talk it over with a parent, a mentor, a teacher, or a coach. They’ve had more life experience. They’ve got more miles on them, they can help you get on the right path.”

  • Life has two types of journeys

  • There are two types of journeys we can experience. One is, roads or paths that we walk or drive on. This type has the capability of retracing our steps and going a different way because, generally, nothing changes and the surface we travel is hard and fixed.

  • The other type is based on life choices we make. Once the choice is made, we can never retrace and start over again because circumstances and people involved change. Words have been said, lives affected and these can never return to the original form. There was a neutral ground before the choice, but after the choice there is no neutral ground involving that choice, again.

  • Look back over your life and remember the different forks in the road you have encountered. See where your choices have brought you. There are many people who waste much time and energy longing for some previous time or place, believing they can recapture past feelings or experiences by returning to that place. One such couple in the military longed to return to a past assignment, discounting their current experience with the longing. They had the opportunity to return to the longed-for place. Upon arriving, they found nothing the same; people were different, housing different, and nothing was satisfying. They became angry, bitter, and turned away from all that had helped them be happy before. Realize that things change, so make up your mind to enjoy the journey where you are.

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  • Five things to do at the fork in the road

  • 1. Evaluate the options

  • and how they will affect your principles and values. Each of us has a set of values that define who we are. If one option has you compromise your values, no matter how lucrative it may be, it will not be worth the risk. One man, working at very successful accounting firm, was told to submit financial information that was wrong and illegal. The owner told him if he wanted to remain employed with the possibility of being one of the partners he must follow orders. He refused and quit the firm. Years later, after the firm had been closed down for fraud, one of the other partners said to this man, “I wish I had followed your example and quit. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and legal problems.”

  • 2. Does the choice feel right

  • deep inside? There are a number of people who have reflected, after picking a fork in their road, “There was just something that didn’t feel right, but I did it anyway.” If it doesn’t feel right, you can’t force it to be right.

  • 3. Talk the options over with your spouse

  • After all, he or she will be your traveling companion on the journey and has a vested interest in your success. This decision affects her life also, and it is better to have a cheering team instead of an adversary.

  • 4. Get input from others

  • that have traveled a similar road. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Learn what you can from others so you can make a wiser decision. When you have as much information and knowledge beforehand, then the next step is possible.

  • 5. Make a firm decision and go forward

  • Put all your energy into the new task with your eyes focused on building success. Yogi is right, “Don’t second-guess yourself ― there’s no need to give yourself ulcers.” Second-guessing will dilute your efforts with doubt.

  • Life is dynamic, exciting and ever changing. We acquire new knowledge and understanding throughout our journey. If, after making a choice and traveling that road for a while, you may think you need to re-evaluate, that means you have come to another fork in your road. Yes, life is full of forks in the road filled with the need to make new decisions. That’s what makes life so interesting.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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