For Better Life Decisions, First Find Your Own Story
Life & Career, HR & Leadership, Society
First Discover your Own Story to Make Right Life Decisions
“There is nothing more difficult than choosing who to be in a world where you can be anyone.”
There are certain and undoubtable facts we know about human nature. For example, how people make decisions has been discussed for a while. There are very interesting answers to this, especially those given by neurology. One of these suggests, based on the clarifications of Antonio Damasio’s research, that we make decisions emotionally, not logically. In his research, Damasio works with people with damage in the emotion-producing parts of their brains.
These people cannot make decisions although they behave quite normal when viewed from the outside. They can make the necessary logical conclusions and analyse situations when they are making decisions. Yet even with daily matters, like whether they want a chicken or beef sandwich for lunch, they cannot reach a decision. Many decisions have so many dimensions and variables that we cannot make it work when we try to logically measure the pros and cons. This is why we make decisions with emotions and instincts when logic is not enough.
This is the emotional background of humans. Now let’s look at the options and decision points people face in life with this emotional state.
What is your life story?
You’re a primary school student; you need to choose one of the disciplines like science-math or social sciences.
You’ve reached the period of choosing a university, there are many options in front of you: Which programme are you going to choose? Will you make your choice according to the programme or the prestige of the university? When choosing a programme, will you consider lesson contents and your interest in learning them or the job you will do after you graduate?
You are about to start your work-life; there are hundreds of corporations, fields to choose from. You feel even bigger pressure because you think that the field of work you enter will define you and become your future identity. Should you be interested in digital marketing or web-design? Should you find a job in one of the big fours and focus on finance; or should you start working in human resources? Pros, cons, pros, cons.
Can you change sectors?
You’ve completed a couple of years of your career. Should you keep working in the same job; or should you accept a position offer from the competition company because they pay 12.6% more? Should you be patient to be promoted and to sit in the manager chair; or should you vertically specialise in the job you do? Maybe the job you’ve been doing up to this day wasn’t suitable for your skills and passions. Can you change your specialty? Can you change sectors?
You’ve been working almost for 15 years. Will you do this job until the end of your life? Do you dream of retirement or do you prefer to work until you die? Which works that you have produced makes you proud? What kind of career moves should you make to produce works that you’ll be more proud of in the future? You have felt that life gets more and more expensive every year, and that your expenses increase in direct proportion with your income level. Dealing with mortgage and children’s school, you suddenly find the salary your company offers you to be a “golden handcuff”. Do you think that life is short and you should take risks; or that you should give up your dreams and make choices that increase your job security?
There is actually only one choice that matters. Choosing your story.
Boundaries of Logic.
First of all, there are no single and unquestionable answers to these questions. Second, these answers that will vary from one person to another will change also with time. So a decision that looks wrong at one point in life can look much more logical and correct looking back into the past. Third, you cannot always make “logical” decisions by weighing the pros and cons at every decision point when giving these answers. There are too many variables to do this.
In short, it is not possible to reach every single decision by making a logical profit-loss analysis.
What is the solution, then?
Believe me, in contrast to the popular opinion, the solution is not to “listen to your heart” after establishing an understanding that logic isn’t enough to make decisions. The solution is to choose your own story. Discover your own story to let it guide you for all your decisions throughout your life.
The solution is in determining a guide that will provide light in difficult turns by uniting logic with the feeling of meaning. So it is in asking how we can make logic communicate with emotions/instincts when it is not enough on its own, instead of giving it up completely.
The way of achieving this that I suggest and bring up again and again in trainings and career consulting is to “discover your own story”.
Human life can be pretty ordinary unless we make it meaningful ourselves. We are born; we eat, drink, consume, perform some social duties and die. But if human life is built around commitment, desire to produce and improve; it can be very meaningful at the same time.
How and through which of your works do you want people to remember you after you die?
What kind of an effect do you want to create first in your family, then in your neighbourhood and city, then in your country and then in the world?
It’s which side of the story you are on that is important, not how small or big the force of your effect is. Have you contributed to making this world a better or a worse place?
What do you think the biggest problems around you and in the world are? Which one of these problems are you trying to solve? What do you fight for other than personal gain?
Direct or indirect, what kind of an effect, what kind of a cultural and emotional legacy do you want to leave behind?
What is your story?
I put understanding human behaviour in the centre of my story. I directly or indirectly work for this goal in all my works. So I am aware of the possibilities that this century might be both the last for the humankind or the first on the way of becoming the civilization to rule space. I am trying to be on the right side of the change, however small my effect is.
What is your story? This is the question you should ask yourself most frequently.
You might believe that enriching children’s inner-world creates a better world and the way to do this is being a good animation artist. Your story might be to build a dream of the future by creating non-utopic worlds.
You might believe that empathy and feeling more makes life more liveable and the way to do this is making good music. Your story might be to make people meet better music in their daily life and to influence their inner-world directly.
You might believe that income injustice is the biggest obstacle in societal and collective improvement. You might believe the best way to solve this is to gain knowledge in finance and build micro-credit services in third world countries. Your story might be a life spent trying to achieve this.
You might think we live in an age of communication and that the biggest influence on people is created through right communication and marketing strategies. Your story might be to convince people to make socially responsible purchases instead of those of greed and ego-satisfaction.
“What are the biggest problems of the world?”
The examples are endless… And ıf you need to get some inspiration, I suggest you ask yourself the question “What are the biggest problems of the world?” and work towards that goal not considering how small your effect is.
The valuable thing isn’t only reaching a result but also the work and the effort. The first thing to be done for a good life is to be on the right side of the historical development of humankind.
Those who have discovered their own stories, what have you experienced?