Go For The Last One
When making important decisions and choosing between different options, choose “the last one.” When you list all the things you’d like to do or try within a category, give full weight and consideration to the one thing on the list you’d like to be doing in the end, at the last, and after you’ve done all the others.
What does that mean?
Let’s take career choices for example. When you list the possible careers you might enjoy trying or doing, which career would you ultimately like to be working in indefinitely? After you’ve tried all the rest, and you’re at the end of your life telling your grandkids about “your last career,” the last work you focused on in the prime of your life – what would that career be?
I understand this suggestion somewhat begs the question because we often thought the first, second, and third things we tried to work at would be the best. But if you are honest with yourself now, do you know your current occupation is not the kind of work you’d like to tell others about? Is it not the work you’d like to focus on when you have enough money and you’re working at what you want to work at?
This kind of mental exercise is only a speculative luxury for many, because most people have to be practical and work at what pays their bills – regardless of how important they perceive their work.
But if have the option to choose between different lines of work, give full consideration to the option you’d like to keep working at even after you’re “old and tired.” Skip the “in-betweens” when you can. Get to the work you may want to pursue as long as you live. If you don’t have to, don’t spend much of your life thinking about the career you wish you would have tried. Try the last one first. And if not first, then maybe soon. If you can, avoid a “what if?” existence. Do the work you want to see done well, by people who deeply care about its quality.
What about relationship choices?
Are you considering dating someone who “might be good for a while”? If that works for you, then I wish you well. But I would recommend pursuing the people you think: I’d like to end up spending the rest of my days in their companionship. Pick the person you not only want to end up with, but also pick the person you want to end everything with – end the meal, end the day, end the year, or end your lifetime. If you have the luxury (and most people do in relationships), then don’t settle for a possible “transition” or “try it out” person. Go after people you think you’d enjoy being close to for the rest of your life. Pick the person you want to tell others: I look forward to spending the rest of my days with that person.
I maybe think about this consideration too much. I have trouble even making friends with people who I don’t think I’d like to be friends with for always. That’s probably too extreme on my part. But personally, growing up in step families, I don’t like transitory things – I don’t like people coming and going out of my inner social life. I like to build things with other people who always intend to stick around.
How about activities or hobbies?
Maybe you’re trying to decide what sport to try to develop skills in. How about giving more consideration to the sport you may want to play into your old age? The last one you’ll still be able to play.
How about where to live or where to work? Living where you may want to live forever might be a good idea. Working in one area and never restarting all your local-peer-business-networking might be a good business idea. If you live and work there now, then decide you don’t want to retire there, you’ve checked that off the list.
Almost all lines of quality work involve great dedication and tough competition. Customers or colleagues sense when you are working in something you don’t intend to focus on or stick with for a long time – and that can negatively affect the amount of return you receive from your work.
Some people love new places, new people, and new work. They would not enjoy the prospect of living or working in one place without changing again. That’s also a great way for people to approach these questions.
But if you find yourself thinking about getting past the relationships, work, or activities you’re currently involved with – then looking more at your ideal endgames may deserve some sooner attention. When you can, skip past the things you primarily define as “transitional.” Life and activities create inertia and attachments. Sometimes we can become stuck and obligated to “transitions” much longer than anticipated.
When in doubt, at least give some serious consideration to the people, places, and things you might still like in your last days.
The above artwork is by Lina Schenyius. © All rights reserved by Lina Schenyius.