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The choices seem small and insignificant, but they plague you.

Should you take a long walk outside or answer your email? Should you watch a movie or work on the book idea you’ve been talking about for years? And when are you going to finally enroll in that Spanish immersion class?

Every day you feel pulled in different directions, torn between the things you want to do and the things you feel you have to. And that tension, quite frankly, is wearing you out.

Instead of making a decision, night after night you allow yourself succumb to the things you think will make you feel less stressed. You watch TV. You splurge on burgers and a milkshake. You skim your email, read celebrity gossip, or play video games until it’s way past your bedtime.

Just before you drift off to sleep, you realize: I’m never going to get that day back. And I wasted it.

String enough days like that together, and you start feeling helplessness. You feel sick inside, like you’ve failed a final exam.

Leo Babauta, one of my favorite writers and thinkers, recently encouraged people to imagine how they would spend their time if they started with a blank slate. That’s a good question, but I find there’s often another problem you have to solve first.

You have to get to root of the expectations that are draining you.

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What I was trying to do should have been simple.

I was attempting to hold a small stack of books with my left arm, where my hand cupped one edge and my elbow cradled the other. But I couldn’t do it.

I had noticed my wrist getting weaker for a couple of years. And thanks to some back pain issues, it had become clear my office set-up was probably the source of my problem.

But I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t see a doctor. I didn’t look for a new desk. I didn’t even take the simple step of ordering a wrist brace online.

The questions is: why did I wait until I had nearly debilitating pain before I decided to act?

The answer might surprise you.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll share with you the solution I found that almost instantly allowed my wrist to start healing. I can now hold that stack of books with my left arm and write for hours on end without issue. It’s not rocket science, but I’m rather proud of what I came up with (better late than never).

But today, I want to explore this idea of waiting until it hurts. Because it’s not just me that does this. I see how this strange decision-making process trips up my clients and my friends too.

As I recently told people on Facebook, if you want to make a profound change in your life, the fastest way to do it is to become dissatisfied with the way you’re currently thinking. But first, you have to understand your thinking.

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It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You know there’s something better for you out there. Work that allows you to shine, to make a difference. Work for which you are appreciated, and if you dare to admit it, admired.

But what kind of work is it?

You’ve been asking yourself that question a long time. You thought the answer would eventually come if you just waited patiently enough, but it hasn’t. When you feel brave (or desperate), you ask your friends, family, mentors, and role models for their advice. The avalanche of opinions is enough to make your head spin. Everyone has a different idea and you feel more confused than ever.

One day you decide you can’t take the indecision any longer and make the leap.

You’ve always had an interest in helping people, so you go back to school for your MBA and transition to Human Resources. You invest tens of thousands of dollars earning your degree. Getting your foot in the door as an older worker takes some patience, but one day, all that hard work finally pays off. You have officially changed careers.

The problem? The job just isn’t what you thought it would be.

You still look forward to the weekends. You still feel that vague ache that something is missing. You’re helping people some of the time, but the hoops you have to jump through to do it are killing you. And when you’re not helping people, you’re firing them.

Worst of all, you feel like you can’t tell anyone what you’re feeling, because of the time and sacrifice it took to get there. You feel stuck and don’t know how to recover. Should you just suck it up and wait it out until retirement? Or should you try your luck again?

Good news. You don’t have to do either. It turns out there’s a much better way to choose a career.

You have to question everything.