20 Important Life Choices That Determine Success

By Shannon
20 Important Life Choices That Determine Success

Life is an ongoing series of decisions that we need to make. Just like the famous Robert Frost poem says- the road less traveled is often more difficult, but it has greater rewards. And yet the road not taken will remain a mystery. The older you get, the more you will wonder what could have been, or if there is an alternate universe where you chose a different path. If you could go back in time, would you choose things differently?

No matter what age you are right now, it’s never too late to start a new chapter. These are some of the most important life choices people need to make in order to succeed in life. We’re not here to tell you what’s right or wrong. Everyone has free will, and at the end of the day, it’s up to you.

You might need to miss your mark a few times before you succeed. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Will You Risk Failing?

The fear of failure is what holds most people back from doing the things that they truly want in life. You only get to fail at something so many times before you have run out of chances. People are afraid of losing relationships, money, and opportunities if they try to do something new and end up failing.

This fear is hardwired in us from ancient times. Years ago, if we failed, it usually meant certain death. For example, if you failed to jump from one ledge to another, you might fall. Sometimes, decision making can trigger a fight-or-flight response. In the modern world, the decisions we make as human beings aren’t life-or-death, but it still feels like it. 

Some people are afraid that if they fail, everything else in their life will come crashing down. Credit: Shutterstock

Anyone who has become a self-made millionaire did so because they got over their fear of failure. They took a leap of faith. Or, they set themselves up with a safety net to make sure they had something to fall back on. But they were brave enough to take that chance. In some of our greatest moments of fear, rewards are on the horizon.

Regret can be a painful thing. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Regret Never Trying

In our last entry, we talked about how much fear can hold you back from trying new things. That leads us to our second big choice you have to make. If you don’t do the things you have always dreamed of, will you regret it? For most, the answer is yes.

Will you look back on your life and regret the chances you didn’t take? Credit: Shutterstock

Think back to all of the times in your life when you tried something and failed. Do you regret trying to do that thing? Chances are, you forgave yourself for the failure because at least you made an attempt. For example, if you ask your crush out on a date, and they say “no,” it will be embarrassing. But at least you don’t have to look back and wonder if you missed an opportunity for them to say “yes.”

Sometimes, dealing with problems can feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Will You Ignore Or Deal With Problems?

Far too many people ignore their problems and hope they will go away. This is why so many people end up having their car repossessed. Even more people end up in the hospital because they decided to ignore health issues for too long. This is because the idea of facing a problem head-on can be terrifying. Some people think that if they just keep moving forward, they can ignore an issue and hope it’ll disappear on its own. This almost never actually happens that way. If anything, ignoring a problem only makes things worse.

If you ignore your problems, things will only get worse. Credit: Shutterstock

With everything in life, you have the decision to face a problem head-on. The earlier you address an issue, the quicker you can get it taken care of. And if you try to put preventive maintenance into your life, it can help stop problems from happening before they even start. For example, if you take your car in for regular oil changes and check-ups, you can find an issue before the engine is ruined. And if you go to the dentist every 6 months, your teeth won’t fall out due to cavities.

Is it your dream to run your own business? Credit: Shutterstock

17. Do You Want to be Self-Employed?

In today’s world, a lot of people wish they could be self-employed because of their sense of freedom. While it’s true that working from home is great, there are pros and cons to both lifestyles. As someone who is self-employed, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, and you can be flexible with which clients you choose. But you will have to pay for your own taxes, health insurance, and more. There is almost zero work-life-balance, and if you don’t have a close relationship with friends and family, it can also get very lonely. There is no such thing as chatting around the water cooler. And when something goes wrong, you often don’t have anyone to turn to for advice.

Some people enjoy their job, even if it’s working for someone else. Credit: Shutterstock

A traditional career has its own pros and cons too. With a regular full-time job, your boss will take care of your health insurance and benefits package. You have a set schedule where you know when it’s time for work and when you can relax. And if you work under a union contract, there are certain rights and privileges that you can enjoy.

But you might be so busy, you won’t be able to make your own schedule. Taking time off can sometimes be a difficult process, especially if you have a limited number of vacation days. This is one of those decisions that has no right or wrong answer. Everyone has to choose what works best for them.

A lot of people choose to move to the United States for a better life. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Where Do You Want to Live?

No one can control where they were born. Some of us were lucky enough to be raised in a safe suburban neighborhood in the United States while others struggled to survive in a third-world country. Your geographical location can sometimes make or break your chances of success. Once you become an adult, you have the choice to move anywhere you want. 

Sometimes, moving to a new town can help you improve your life. Credit: Shutterstock

Plenty of people who can become successful anywhere in the world by using their Internet connection. But there are certain industries out there where following your dream is going to require you to move. For example, if you want to be an actor, it only makes sense to move to Los Angeles. If you’re not willing to move to the right location, you may never be able to follow your dreams.

The person you marry is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your lifetime. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Are You Going to Marry the Right Person?

In the United States, 50% of all marriages end in divorce. For those the relationships that have fallen apart, they might look back over the years and wondered where things went wrong. Were there red flags that told them that the marriage was not a good idea, but they moved forward anyway? Social pressure often leads people into getting married even when it’s not what will actually make them happy. Once you have been in a relationship with someone for a few years, there is always the pressure from family and friends to pop the question. And if you don’t think you could do better, or you felt comfortable, you may think marriage is the best option, even if this person doesn’t feel like “the one.”

Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult things anyone can experience. Credit: Shutterstock

Before you get married, you should make sure that you both have the same values. Do you both want children? How many, and when? Do you have mutual respect for one another? Is there sexual chemistry? Can you imagine still loving this person even if they were old and disabled? Do you love them unconditionally? There are so many things you need to consider before jumping into marriage. If you’re not sure, you may want to seek help from a relationship counselor. 

Some people only go to college to please their parents. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Are You Living For What You Want, or What Your Parents Want?

In 2015, 36% of people in their 20’s had gone to college, compared to just 24% of young people back in 1980. The numbers are going up because times are changing and employers now expect you to have a degree. But many of these students only went to college because their parents told them it was the best and only option at succeeding in life. Now, a lot of those people have a crippling amount of debt without the ability to use their degree for a job. Most of the time, parents push you to do things when they are living vicariously through you. In this example, maybe they never went to college, so they pushed you to go in their place.

Your parents may be disappointed, but it is more important to do what makes you happy. Credit: Shutterstock

Usually, this is coming from a place of love. Your parents want the best for you, and they may feel that it’s necessary to push you to succeed. Or they might have a very narrow view of success where only doctors and lawyers are the ones who make a lot of money. But once you become an adult, you need to decide if you are going to live going after someone else’s dreams or your own. 

Watching sports can be fun, but you won’t learn anything by watching. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Would You Rather Learn or Be Entertained?

We live in a time where we have an endless amount of free content at our fingertips. If you have a Netflix subscription, there are so many TV shows and movies available, it’s impossible to watch them all in one lifetime. Same for YouTubers who are creating free content on a daily basis. When you get home from work, you decide what kind of shows you want to watch. Are you watching sports and reality TV? And does this entertainment bring any value to your life?

YouTube has millions of videos that will teach you anything you want to learn. Credit: Shutterstock

Instead of watching shows that are purely for entertainment, you could be spending that same amount of time learning information that will help you to succeed and add value to your life. There are YouTube channels dedicated to every single career path you could possibly imagine. At the end of the day, it’s up to you how you spend your free time.

Are you planning for the future? Credit: Shutterstock

12. Do You Want to Live in the Moment or Prepare for the Future?

This next question is difficult, because it is important to balance your life between living in the moment and preparing for the future. If you spend your money as soon as you make it, party, and only think about today, you will be ill-prepared for the future.  As soon as there is an emergency, you may not be able to pay for your expenses. Even worse, once you get ready for retirement, you might realize there is nothing left for you to survive on.

It is healthy to live in the moment sometimes. Credit: Shutterstock

On the other hand, there are people that live purely for the future. Instead of having fun and making friends, they work their fingers to the bone and save all of their money for the future. These types of people usually end up becoming richer, but it is sort of like being Ebenezer Scrooge. If you spend your entire life chasing money instead of having fun, you might end up becoming a miserable old person who is all alone. This is why it is so important to balance your life between these two. It’s fine to have fun and live in the moment when you are young, but always remember that the future will come someday.

Are you going to eat healthy food or junk? Credit: Shutterstock

11. What Kind of Food Are You Going to Eat?

An estimated 140 million Americans are considered to be either obese or overweight. Years ago, plenty of people ate to their heart’s content and weren’t gaining weight. The only thing that has changed in our society is the prevalence of pre-packaged foods and drinks that are full of sugar. If you haven’t already seen it, we seriously recommend watching the documentary Fed Up. In it, you will learn just how corrupt laws and business tactics have been keeping Americans fat. After seeing this, you will realize that it’s not anyone’s fault they are overweight. They were essentially tricked into eating the wrong things. But you don’t have to live your entire life that way.

Eating healthy can make you happier. Credit: Shutterstock

Depending on your situation, it might be truly difficult to make the right decisions when it comes to eating healthy things. If you have $5 in your bank account, eating from the McDonald’s dollar menu might seem like your only option. However, you could just as easily buy a head of lettuce and some dressing for $2 and have a salad instead of a hamburger and fries. We need to admit to ourselves that this is a decision to eat unhealthy because it tastes better. You have the power to eat healthy foods and keep yourself living a long and thriving life. 

The decision to buy a house or not can be one of the biggest decisions ever. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Do You Want to Buy a House or Rent?

If you want to grow your wealth, you may be thinking about purchasing real estate. After all, paying rent is really like paying off someone else’s mortgage. You won’t end up with an asset at the end of a rental agreement, either. Most wealthy people attribute home ownership to being one of the major milestones in their financial growth.

Even though it’s part of the American Dream, buying is not for everyone. Credit: Shutterstock

However, there are some people out there who truly hate the idea of owning a home. They don’t want a 30-year mortgage to worry about. If they need to move for work, it is much easier to change apartments instead of selling a house. And as a tenant, you’re not responsible for any repairs to the home. Only you can decide what’s best for your situation.

For a lot of people, raising kids is a dream come true. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Do You Want to Have Children?

Back in 1970, the average age a woman started having children was 21 years old. Today, the average age has gone up to 26. And according to The New York Times, people in more success-driven cities like New York and San Francisco don’t start having kids until their 30s. People are waiting a lot longer to have kids because there are more people going to college and focusing on establishing their lives before they settle down. 

Some people don’t feel ready to have children, but society pushes them to do it anyway. Credit: Shutterstock

If you are nearing the age of 30 and haven’t had children yet, you might be feeling pressure from friends and family to become a parent. You need to decide if it’s something you truly want for yourself and your partner. There is no shame in having a childless marriage is this is what you want from life. What would be worse is bringing a child into the world when you don’t actually want them. And if you do want to have kids, you need to make sure you are in the best situation possible to take care of them.

College majors in the medical industry almost always lead to getting a good job. Credit: Burst by Shopify

8. What College Major Will You Choose?

If you are still young enough to be in college, you need to ask yourself if the major you chose is going to help you succeed. Will it give you a comfortable living up until retirement age? If you are not sure where to start, Kiplinger has a list of the best college majors for a lucrative career. Remember that college is an investment. You will be spending a lot of time and money going to school, so it needs to be worth it in the end. 

With college majors, there are so many different choices in front of you. Credit: Shutterstock

On the other hand, you should n’t pick a major because the field is supposed to make a lot of money. For example, a lot of people try to go after a computer science degree, but if they have never taken calculus before, they are going to struggle through the courses. You should pick something that you are already good at and genuinely interested in that should lead to potential job opportunities. 

If you learn to invest, your money can grow over time. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Work For Your Money, or Have Your Money Work For You?

This next bullet point is easier said than done. You will have to make a series of decisions in your life in order to make your money grow. Some people are so worried about making ends meet that they are hyper-focused on making enough money so they can pay their bills and enjoy life. But if you only do this, you could lose out on opportunities to have your money work for you so that you work less.

Do you want your money to work for you? Credit: Shutterstock

If you live in the United States, nearly everyone has the opportunity to invest in something where the compound interest will make a massive difference. If you start saving in a Roth IRA when you are in your early 20s, you can retire a millionaire. And once you have a million dollars, that money can be put in a money market account that generates enough interest for you to live comfortably without working. 

Sometimes, serving your community can bring more value to your life. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Do You Want to Serve Yourself Or Others?

In a lot of cases, there is nothing wrong with living a life of giving, and it can even help you succeed. Look at people like Mother Theresa, who was sainted for helping orphaned children. Oprah Winfrey is famous for her generosity, and so is the YouTuber Mr. Beast. They all found a way to live a life that is dedicated to the service of others, but it also helped them succeed.

Are you living to serve yourself, or other people? Credit: Shutterstock

On the flip side, giving too much to other people can sometimes take away from your own success. For example, if you are taking a back seat on your own dreams to help a friend build their business, it means that you are not making yourself a priority. Ask yourself how you would live your life differently if you lived it for your own hopes and dreams. Wanting something for yourself is not selfish. There should be a way to balance what you want with giving to others.

Sometimes, your heart can get in the way of making a lot of money. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Are You Going to Chase Money or Love? 

Love is the most beautiful thing in the world. Just like oxygen, it is something people need in order to survive and thrive. Even though it should be the objective of everyone’s life, society tricks us into believing that money is more important. However, you’ve got to pay the bills. Food has to go on the table somehow. And if you want to reach your full potential, it sometimes means sacrificing being in a relationship.

Some people need to choose between money and love. Credit: Shutterstock

In certain cases, people need to stay single for a long time if they want to succeed. Being in a relationship takes a lot of time and effort. So if you are working 24/7 to build your career, there might not be time to give to others. However, if you go too long only thinking about your selfish desires, you might ruin a great relationship. Or, your motivation to make money might not be selfish, especially if you are trying to help pay for your family’s needs. There is no right answer to this question, but it is still one you need to truly ask yourself. What’s more important to you personally? Money or love?

Working can be exhausting, but it’s better than being broke. Credit: Burst by Shopify

4. Would You Rather Be Tired or Broke?

Sometimes, the one thing stopping someone from success is pure exhaustion. If you come home from work, you want to lay down on the couch and take a nap. The thought of going to a side-hustle or starting a business seems exhausting. Giving up your nightly beer in favor of waking up at 6 a.m. sounds like too much of a chore. 

Doctors work 24-hour shifts, but they make a lot of money. Credit: Burst by Shopify

The truth is that most successful people earned their money because they were willing to work through total exhaustion. They might work 60 to 100 hours per week and barely sleep if it means meeting their goals. These people would rather be exhausted than broke. Depending on your situation, you might truly want to choose sleep and health instead of money. The decision is up to you.

Sometimes, going back to school as an adult can change their life for the better. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Should You Go Back to School?

If you already graduated a few years ago, you might regret the major you chose when you were in your teens or early 20s. Maybe you are considering a career change, you might be thinking about going back to school. This can either accelerate your personal growth and potentially help you earn a larger income. Or it could be a huge mistake that could put you deeper into student loan debt.

Graduating with a new degree could help your career path. Credit: Shutterstock

Before making the decision to go back to school, take out a pen and paper and start to project how much you will make if you continue with your current job until retirement. Then, calculate how much you will make if you get a higher-paying job with this new career you hope to get after graduation. Subtract the cost of your new degree. Would it be worth it? And are there other expenses involved like child care? Sometimes, this decision might also have to do with your happiness and well-being instead of money. No one can make this decision for you, but it is important to think long and hard about the pros and cons.

Do you want to quit your job? Credit: Shutterstock

2. Should You Quit Your Job or Stay For Life?

There are a lot of people out there who feel unhappy with their job. And if they are working in a toxic environment, they might even have a manager or boss who is making them feel inadequate like they can’t do any better. No one can tell you whether you should quit your job or not, and life circumstances may force you to stay somewhere longer than you would like.  But every person on this planet deserves happiness. If you are extremely unhappy in your workplace, make a plan for escape. We are not suggesting that you should stand up at your desk and declare that you quit. But if you are unhappy, you should prepare your resume and start applying for new jobs.

Some people are truly happy with their job and want to stay there for life. Credit: Shutterstock

On the other hand, you might be perfectly happy with your current job. Some people have the complete opposite problem of being content in a job that other people consider to be not so impressive. For example, maybe you truly love working in a clothing store because you love fashion. But your parents are constantly telling you that you should have been a lawyer. No one should make you feel inadequate in any way.  If you love the job you are doing, and you make enough money to get by, that’s the most important thing. There are plenty of people out there who make a lot of money but are miserable. So hold on to happiness when you can.

Are you taking a back seat in your life, or driving? Credit: Shutterstock

1. Do You Want to be a Driver or a Passenger in Life? 

There are some people out there who like to go with the flow. They are not too concerned with how they do in school, what job they get, and so on. These people are essentially passengers in their own life. If something bad happens, they feel helpless, as if it was predestined for them to fail. This sense of powerlessness can often lead to depression and unhappiness. And when something goes wrong, these people are more likely to blame their parents, teachers, or spouse.

It is possible for you to take control of your own life. Credit: Shutterstock

If you want to make changes in your life, you need to be the driver. Take control of the vehicle that is your life. No matter what your circumstances may have been when you were born, you ultimately have the power to improve your life. Yes, there are some people out there who had it easy. And for you, it may be a process of crawling before you can run. But with every decision you make, you are getting one step closer to success.