Your life is filled with endless possibilities and one of the most important things you can do is avoid limiting those possibilities before you are ready. Consider this – when we are born, the world is vast before us. We could grow up to be so many different things. As we grow and develop, some of those possibilities begin to fall away naturally. For instance, I am “almost 5’3” tall. It quickly became apparent I was never going to reach a sufficient height to become a great basketball player, so that possibility dropped off for me. Fortunately, I did not have aspirations for the WNBA, so the loss of this possibility was not deeply felt. This process continues throughout our lives as we begin to hone our interests and abilities. This is a natural and healthy process.
What I want to caution you about today is to avoid limiting your possibilities prematurely. You may be depriving yourself of something potentially amazing. How do these possibilities get unnecessarily limited? Here are a few ways:
- Dropping out of high school. Blowing off your education limits your career path tremendously. This doesn’t have to be a permanent limitation (you can always go back to school), but it is always harder to go back than you might expect.
- An unplanned pregnancy. I love kids. I have a kid and think she is absolutely amazing (I am a little biased), but having a child when you are unprepared limits the other options available to you.
- Getting arrested. A criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life and limit your choices. If incarcerated, you are limited in your selection of even the most basic things (what to eat, where to go, when to shower, etc). Even if you aren’t imprisoned, this record can limit the types of jobs you can obtain and who would be/might be willing to hire you.
- Drinking and/or doing drugs. If you are one of the lucky ones who are able to “dabble” in drugs and not become addicted, you are still restricting your future opportunities. Your relationships can be damaged by your substance use, you can suffer financial hardships, you can get arrested (see above) and you can lose focus on the things that matter in your life. What if you are not one of the “lucky ones”? You get to look forward to possible alcohol or drug overdoses and addictions. Your life will be constrained in so many ways.
Do your best to keep your options open. It is almost always better to have too many alternatives available to you rather than too few. Protect your possibilities. They have value and so do you.