Tragedy and the Choices We Make

This post is off-topic (not about career issues) because it has been prompted by the recent shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I could not bring myself to write a business-as-usual career post while that tragedy was sharply fresh in my mind. Instead, it has caused me to think about the choices we make that have outcomes we would never have expected. We might think we can do something later, that there is plenty of time for certain things to happen down the road. So we choose to postpone whatever it is. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the time later that we think we will.

How many times do you tell yourself, for instance, “I know I should take a vacation but I am really too busy right now; I’ll do it when I have time”? Or, to give another example, “I should increase my professional qualifications by taking that new technology course, but there’s no way to fit it into my schedule this year. I’ll do it next year for sure, though.” Or maybe you’ve been meaning to thank someone who supported and encouraged you when you went through a tough time, but somehow you just haven’t gotten around to doing it “properly,” and you tell yourself, “I’ll give her a call later this week–next week at the latest.”

We can’t claim a future that hasn’t happened yet. Circumstances totally beyond our knowing or control can put that future forever out of reach. We might make innocent choices that put us in the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone else might make a horrendous choice that robs us of our future. Every time you tell yourself, “I can do it later,” remember this: For 12 people in Aurora, “later” will never come.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Colorado and to those who survived the attack and now have to cope with the aftermath. I’m focusing my thoughts and prayers on them, not on the person who perpetrated the tragedy. Their road will be unimaginably hard, but I hope they will eventually find a sense of peace and be able to move forward with their lives, not be forever haunted and held back by the tragedy of the past.

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