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This doesn’t work for me

Posted in the following categories: Decision Making, Life Lessons

That’s the thought that kept swirling in my head as I browsed through the Cornell course catalog.

This doesn’t work for me.

I was a college freshman planning out my next four years. But there was a problem: None of the available majors appealed to me. There were a few that came close, but none of them quite captured what I wanted to study.

And then I asked myself, What if I created my own major? Instead of adjusting my preferences to fit the predetermined curriculum menu, I wondered if the menu itself could be changed.

I trekked over to the Registrar’s office and asked them if I could design my own path of study. The answer, shockingly, was yes. There was a little-known program that gave free rein to a small group of freshmen to create their own major.

I applied and was accepted. I got to design my own four-year adventure, picking exactly the classes that I wanted to take—not what someone else thought would be good for me.

Most people go through life walking through the most convenient door. We follow the path of least resistance and get pulled around by strings we didn’t attach. We tell ourselves, Sure, I could do that job. Sure, I could major in that program. Sure, I could contort myself to fit through that tiny door that someone else created. 

But those doors may not be the best ones for you. There’s immense power in intentionally creating and opening the doors that accommodate you—instead of shrinking yourself in order to squeeze through whatever door happens to be there.

That, in turn, requires you to get clear on the answer to a seemingly simple question.

What do you want? What do you really want?

Stare at that question for as long as you need. Deciding what you want can be the hardest thing, particularly if you’ve spent your life—as most of us do—being compelled to go along with the decisions that others have made.

Once you’ve decided what you want from life, go off-menu.

Ask for it. Create it.

Because the best things in life aren’t on the menu.

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