> Chung was stressing out. He’d worked hard all through his career at UC Berkeley and was graduating with honors. He expected to go to graduate school eventually, but wanted to have some experience first in his chosen profession so that he could get the most out of grad school and launch his career quickly. To keep his options open, Chung applied to six different internship programs, varying from one to three years in length. Then something awful happened. He was accepted into four of the six internship programs, including his top three choices. Getting in wasn’t awful; it was what happened next. Total indecision. He had no idea what to do, and no idea how to solve the age-old problem of not knowing what to do.

> He was completely unprepared for getting into his three top choices, and, to exacerbate the problem, his three top choices were completely different from one another. One was teaching in rural Asia, one was doing paralegal work with an anti–sex-slavery nonprofit in Belgium, and one was doing research at a health-care think tank in Washington, D.C. They were all great, but which one to take?

> Chung knew that this was an incredibly important decision, because where he did his internship would direct his graduate studies, and what he got his graduate degree in would direct his career, and that would set his life path. If he didn’t get it right, he risked ending up in a “second choice” life. But he didn’t know what his first choice was. He didn’t know which was best.

> Chung was making a very common mistake. He thought there was one best way to spend his life, and he had to know what it was or he’d be settling for second best—or worse. But that’s not true. We all contain enough energy and talents and interests to live many different types of lives, all of which could be authentic and interesting and productive. Asking which life is best is asking a silly question; it’s like asking whether it’s better to have hands or feet.

> After Chung came to office hours, Dave asked him, “If you’re having such a hard time picking, are you sure you even have to? If you could do all three internships, one after another, how would you like that?” Chung replied, “I’d love to do that! But is that even allowed? How do I get permission to do all three?”

> “Just ask. You’ve got nothing to lose by asking.”

> He did, and, to his great surprise, two of the organizations were willing to wait; he could do all three over the next five years if he wanted to.

> It dawned on Chung, finally, that the reason he couldn’t figure out which one was best was that there was no best. There were three great and totally different possibilities in front of him. At this point in his life, he could afford to check them all out, and that’s what he did.

> Of course, what finally happened was something Chung had never imagined at all. During his first, two-year internship, he stayed in contact with his other undergraduate buddies, talking and Skyping regularly. After about nine months, all of them except Chung found themselves unhappy and disillusioned with life after college. That wasn’t so surprising. Leaving college is pretty stressful, and Chung was having some struggles on the job himself, but what was different was how everybody felt about it. Chung had learned life design. He had tools he could use, and accepted that there was more than one happy path he could chart his life by. His buddies didn’t have that confidence, so Chung started spending time helping each of them figure out what they could do next. He loved doing that. In fact, he loved it so much that he decided to investigate how he could do the same kind of helping all the time. Right after that first internship, he canceled the next two and went to grad school in career counseling. After finally accepting that there were at least three great careers he could live into well, he discovered a fourth. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you stop trying to “get it right” and start designing your way forward.

> Dysfunctional Belief: I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan, and then execute it.
> Reframe: There are multiple great lives (and plans) within me, and I get to choose which one to build my way forward to next.

-- Bill Burnett & Dave Evans: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
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