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When nothing goes right, go left.

We do like clever wordplay. But this quirky adage with its double entendre carries a deeper meaning: in the face of adversity, search for unconventional solutions and carve your own path. It’s encouragement with a pinch of daring to step off the beaten track and onto one of the roads less traveled.

Did you know that in the game of chess, there is a situation called Zugzwang? It’s a strategic impasse, where every option diminishes the player's prospects. You are forced to make a move, but every available step only puts you in a worse position. Whatever you do will only be to your detriment. What would you do in Zygzwang?

Thankfully, in life, things are less rigid than on a chessboard. In the intricate web of choices we make every day, we might even refuse to play the game altogether. As entrepreneur and marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book Linchpin, “If the game is designed for you to lose, don’t play that game. Play a different one.” And we can. In your life, you write the rulebook.

As a result, you are also in charge of drawing your own roadmap. And that might seem scary to some of us. So here’s a starting point for you. Ask yourself: What is my purpose? What are my values? Who are the most important people who make my journey worthwhile? Reflect, mull it over, and take your time, too, as these are the kind of signposts you need to look out for along the way. Ok, here’s a makeshift mnemonic device to point you in the right direction.

Growth Purpose Serenity

In other words, grow into your purpose to achieve serenity. In simple terms, you grow when you set out on a journey, en route you are more likely to (re)discover your purpose, and when you do, your reward will be inner peace. That is how everything clicks into place.

And is there anything more liberating than living your life according to your own coordinates? Try as you might, any version of the future is uncharted territory that you’ll have to navigate making choices as you go. But will you make them yourself, or let somebody else decide for you?

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We either choose a predetermined route or carve a new one. We genuinely want you to be happy on your terms and who are we to tell you what to do. However, since you are reading this article, something tells us there’s at least a tiny part of you that at some point in your journey began wondering, ‘...what if?”

That tiny feeling is your gateway into turning left even if everything is going right. Social norms and man-made rules constantly form and reinforce our collective comfort zones which are here to stay if you prefer them. However, the opportunity to turn a different corner, even if it proves to be a cul-de-sac, is your right. Having a choice is a sign of freedom.

Still, not everyone can handle so much power over their fate. What if you get lost and stranded in your own life? More often than not, choosing one path means unchoosing another—how do we know the other one was not the one?

These are reasonable questions with no easy answers. But we can tell you this: the nature of any path is uncertainty. One way or another, we all step into the unknown every single day. Even on a routine highway drive from A to B, with clear directions and navigation systems guiding you, unforeseen circumstances may still derail you. Be it an unreported collision, a sudden encounter with wildlife, or a passenger getting car sick—we just never know what's around the corner. Well, no corners on a highway but you get the point.

So much of our journey is beyond our control. Still, we can adjust accordingly to various shifts and wrong turns but decisions have to be made. If you find yourself at a crossroads, how do you choose which way to go? What do you do if the paths are hidden? How do you get unstuck to follow your inner compass toward your True North?

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister coined the term decision fatigue to explain the emotional and mental strain caused by an excess of choices. It is estimated that we make thousands of decisions every day. From picking the right outfit in the morning to opting in or out of a social event in the evening, the cost of this constant processing takes its toll on our mental energy. As a result, our capacity to make optimal choices diminishes over time.

Did you notice how many successful people tend to be dressed very simplistically? Free-thinker Steve Jobs focused on making Apple decisions of such magnitude that his name is known all around the world as much as the black turtleneck he wore all the time. Here’s what he figured out: reduce insignificant decision-making to combat decision fatigue. Also, learn to say no to what does not serve you well. Prioritize what’s important and do it first thing in the morning when your brain has yet to be bombarded with other minor choices. And use modern technology to automate as much as you can. With more mental space the selection process gets easier.

Yet, what if there is no choice to make because the path is no longer visible? Step by step, shaky feet notwithstanding, you need to carve the trail yourself. There is a reward for your effort though. You will inevitably become strong and resilient by conquering your fear. You will gain the confidence and skill to create other aspects of your life. And by venturing into the unknown you will become a leader. Because to guide others, we first need to guide ourselves.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

― Henry David Thoreau

In practice though, simply rest. Take a break―learn to paint, read a book, have some fun―detach from the path for a while. Sooner or later, it will start glistening at your feet again. Imagine it being covered by autumn leaves. Grab a pile and throw it in the air like you did as a kid. Falling leaves catch sunlight so wonderfully… And there’s your path again. And here's where you’re supposed to lay your next brick.


All that you are creates a unique path in front of you and the only certainty you might expect to encounter on the way is the continuously improving version of yourself. Should you ever get lost, treat it as an opportunity to explore what you would otherwise not investigate (like learning to knit, paint, or dance if this is not your thing), and wander to wonder. Nothing is ever linear, we meander more than we know. But that is the beauty of the journey―the unexpected.

You might stumble, you might fall. Dust yourself off and try again. By now you must be curious how far your feet might take you. So off you go, adventurer.

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