3 Practical Principles for Life’s “Fork-in-the-Road” Moments

Sometimes in life it feels like we’ve come to a fork in the road. What do we do in those moments? 

Many young adults may feel like every day they are met with another fork in the road and another decision to be made. This can get exhausting, overwhelming, and paralyzing all at once. Should I go to college? If so, where should I go? What should I study? What career should I prepare for? 

These are just a few of the questions that young adults are asking themselves. For Christian young adults, there is often a background pressure of wanting to “do the will of God” or “fulfill God’s plan/purpose” for their life. They fear that if they make the wrong decision, they’ll be walking out of the will of God.

I’m not here to say that those decisions aren’t important. And I’m certainly not here to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about God’s direction and will for our lives. But I hope these practical principles will help free young adults to think productively about the options in front of them instead of paralyzing them with the pressure to make a “perfect” decision.

1. Multiple options are valid.

This first principle pushes back gently at the notion that God has preordained every detail of our lives and that if we consider another option we are “outside” of His will. If a student is trying to decide between pursuing a business degree at college or starting their own entrepreneurial venture and learning from experience, there is freedom to consider both of those options. (And others!) 

So please avoid thinking that at every fork in the road you have to decide between a path that leads to the fields of paradise and a path that leads to the dark valley of shadows. Some choices are like that. But not all. And very few decisions about education and career have that kind of radical dichotomy. 

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That’s not to say there isn’t a better decision to be made or that one of two options may be better than the other. It’s simply to set you more at ease because you aren’t going to wreck your life because you took a gap year instead of jumping straight into college for example. (Or vice versa.)

2. Not every decision is final.

Some decisions are long-term commitments. Marriage, for example, is entered into for the long haul. A job certainly commits you to someone else for a longer period of time in most cases. But even then, in both examples, there’s an “interview” period. 

In the same way, many decisions don’t require a 100% commitment right up front. 

Let’s say, for example, you want to be an architect. This is not a situation where you have a deadline and you have to decide for sure if you want to be an architect and then you can’t change once you’ve decided. You can “dabble” in architecture for a while and see if it’s something that you’d like to continue pursuing.

The key here is not to ask “do I want to be an architect for the rest of my life?” but instead to ask “how can I get my ‘feet wet’ with architecture and test this interest out?”

3. Course corrections are okay.

Backing up and changing course is not just okay, it’s a good thing in many cases.

Don’t be afraid to try things and then change course. To use the fork-in-the-road analogy, you can walk back to the fork and take the other path if needed. Once again, I have to clarify that there are some decisions that will have consequences that you can’t wish away. Some choices we make don’t give us “take-backs”. But in most cases, when we’re talking about education, pursuits, and career, we can usually make a course correction with minimal consequences. It may cost us some time or money but it won’t wreck our life.

Hopefully this article has helped relieve some of the stress of those “fork-in-the-road” moments. Young adulthood is full of big decisions but there are practical and productive ways to make those decisions wisely!

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