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Change Direction or Stay the Course?

People who persevere are often celebrated. You hear all about a person’s ability to “stick with it” and people speak of these matters with a sense of awe and wonder in their voice. Clearly, there are times when the ability to make a commitment and see it through is both admirable and healthy, but is it always?

You’ve probably had a time in your life when you wonder if you should stay the course or if you should change your direction.

Your kids are no exception. They’ll face many of these decisions throughout their lives and sometimes the struggle to make the right choice is quite difficult.

How can a person know if they should be shifting or sticking? And how can you advise a child who is facing a difficult decision like this?

Forks in the road happen. Robert Frost wrote a poem, The Road Not Taken, about this choice. The poem describes the dilemma of being confronted with having to make a decision and yet both options appear equally as beneficial. Your child knows they have to make a decision, but there’s nothing that clearly indicates which is the right one for them. So how do they choose?

Whether they have the option of staying on one path or taking a new one, the challenge is the same. Perhaps, you should consider encouraging them to ponder their decision carefully; they can boldly—or even blindly--choose one over the other, or they can allow themselves to become frozen by indecision.

Knowing that any decision is entirely up to them can feel scary. There are times when your child just doesn’t feel like choosing. Sometimes they might just want someone else to tell them what to do or even feel tired or overwhelmed by the choice. They might even feel like they don’t want the responsibility. However, it is important to point out that even if they allow another to dictate which path they should take, the decision is still their responsibility.

Why? Because they’ve hypothetically given someone else the power to make the choice for them.

In the end, it’s still ultimately best if your children make decisions for themselves, after all. Instead of feeling scared, you can ease them into to feeling empowered by making their own decisions. Sometimes, it’s possible to feel both scared and empowered at the same time, but at least they won’t be a victim of a decision that someone else made for them. Teaching them to stand on their own two feet is a better option.

This leads back to the question of how does anyone make a choice at all, much less make one when both options appear to be equally viable? The paths may be thick with trees or other obstacles, so one can’t clearly see what lies ahead. No one knows how their choice will impact them down the road in five minutes, five days, or five years.

Encourage your children to think through their situations. Is it best for them to stay on the path because that’s how they started? Or is this the “stick-to-itiveness” that people value? Is fear of the unknown keeping them on the tried and true path? Are they intent upon finishing what they started, but no longer feel any joy from it?

I suggest you have your children look back at the path they’ve have been on and other paths they’ve taken in the past. Have them consider their track record. Is your child a person who jumps ship frequently, moving from one project to another without ever finishing any? Or have they historically trudged along, no matter the obstacle?

Also encourage them to check in with their Internal Guidance System (IGS). Does this decision feel different or does it sound like the “same song, second verse?”

Let their IGS help them discern whether they’re changing their mind and taking a new route out of a sense of fun and adventure, because they sense a new opportunity, or if they’re flailing about without a real sense of purpose.

If you typically stick it out, your child’s IGS can help them let go of a path that may no longer be serving them. With some guidance from you, their IGS can also help them to recognize that by changing directions, they’re doing themselves a favor.

If they feel elated at the new possibilities that lie ahead – no matter what their decision, this is a good indication they’re going in the right direction. Yes, they might have some “butterflies” at the prospect, but, in general, it should feel good.

Your children having changing minds and taking new routes is not the same as flip-flopping or being indecisive. By being aware of the opportunities that are around them, they can feel their way along the right course.  

Sometimes children will decide to stay the course. And it may be the correct decision, for them. Many great breakthroughs have been accomplished because people were dedicated to following a specific path.

Other times, the path they take will change dramatically, but somehow their experiences have the potential to link together in a way that no one will expect. The path through the yellow woods will wind, bend, and even turn back on itself many times. With each bend, your child will learn and grow, so even if they find themselves at a place that looks familiar, they will be different.

No matter which direction they choose decide, your child make the right choice for themselves when the moment is right by listening to their IGS. And that will make all the difference in the world.


For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

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