When I was a graduate student working on the data analysis portion of my dissertation, I became quite intimate with the regression analysis construct of degrees of freedom. At the time, I was particularly challenged by what ultimately turned out to be a fairly simple construct regarding the opportunities and limits around data values and decisions. On a very basic level, the construct of degrees of freedom provides information regarding the number of choices you have when assigning values in a limited data set. For example, if you wanted to assign values to four unknown numbers that add up to 200, you have 3 degrees of freedom – or three choices – regarding the numerical values of the 1st three numbers as long as their total doesn’t exceed the upper limit of 200. The fourth number, when added to the first three, must respect and meet the upper boundary limit of 200.
Over time, I continued to ponder the construct of degrees of freedom and the realities of the opportunities and constraints inherent in personal and career choices. Many choices serve to expand possibilities for the present and future; they speak to your deepest values and strengths, opening doors that provide opportunities for fully utilizing your gifts, passion and potential. Other choices might temporarily close a door in the present, however, that door can still be returned to, opened and pursued at some future point in time. Some choices, however, serve to both close and lock doors that can never be returned to at any point in time. These “door closing and locking” choices decrease or eliminate your ultimate number of life/career options.
Ideally, each of your life choices will ultimately serve to expand current and future possibilities, thus maintaining the integrity of your entire life. Although you rarely get to know the results of your choices in advance, when you learn to choose through the inherent opportunity of limited choices, you ultimately become expert in choosing from a place that honors your deepest values; you are fully aware that the reality of limited choices ultimately empowers you to be fully present throughout your life.
How do you approach your personal and professional choices?
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