Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books?
The format is based on the reader being able to make decisions, to choose which path to follow at every crossroad in the story. Once the end is reached, you can go back and start over again, making different choices, until all possibilities have been explored and the book has been read cover to cover.
As a child of the 1980s, I LOVED these books. They got me into reading and helped inspire a lifelong pursuit of travel and adventure. They’re the reason I love mystery novels and why I’ve never given up on my dream of piloting a hot air balloon over western Europe while being chased by mysterious, yet handsome, bad guys.
I recently purchased a set of these books for my daughters and reading the covers and synopses was a total trip. I expected the plot lines to be laughable and out-dated, and I wasn't disappointed. Lasers, aliens and aliens with lasers were common themes, as were damsels in distress and buried treasure.
It's been a long time since I thought about Choose Your Own Adventure books, but they’re top of mind now as many of us think about charting our course for 2017 because the truth is, this year can be whatever you want it to be. You too can choose your own adventure. You can even go down one path, decide it's not for you and switch course. You are the driver, you're in control.
YOU, my friend, are the alien with a laser.
Will this be the year you
lose 15 pounds?
travel to that bucket list place?
pay off your credit card?
start a new career?
expand your family?
learn a new language?
end a bad relationship?
Or will this be the year you hunker down and keep the status quo? Will your focus be feathering the nest, getting better at your job, or turning a hobby into a career?
Will you start new friendships, end old ones or reconnect with someone who meant a lot to you back in the day?
Or maybe you’ll start changing the way you see the world, consciously or unconsciously.
Even when you choose your own adventure, life can throw you a curveball. And while your plot twist might not be two-headed camels chasing you across the surface of the moon (at least I hope not, for your sake), it might be something that rocks your world, something you didn’t see coming that changes everything for better or for worse. So you’ll keep reading and wait for the chance to regain control, to make the decisions that restore order, at least in part.
If 2016 was a difficult year and you're hoping for better in 2017, what choices are you making to ensure that happens? Because even when it’s all going to hell and our husbands, bosses, and kids seem hell bent on ruining our lives, we still have choices. We all have the power to choose our own adventures, any day, any time and we don’t need a calendar flip to do it (but a nice glass of merlot can be extremely helpful.)
The point is, only you can write your story. Your kids, your spouse, your parents and your boss might have plans and expectations but YOU are the one who chooses. YOU are the one who gets to decide on a path and follow it either to its conclusion or until it forks and you have to choose again. Even when the universe sends you down a different road, never forget that eventually the time will come when you can take back the wheel.
This is what I want for myself, my girlfriends and all my loved ones in 2017: the ability to recognize that we control our own stories; for each of us to understand that there is power in choice. As we move through life we'll have many co-pilots. At different times our parents, our friends, our spouses, even our kids, will have huge influence on the choices we make. And while it's okay to let them guide us, even to nudge or suggest a certain path, no one else can write your story for you.
The decision is yours. Choose wisely.