Written By: Jennifer Dugan, Chief Family Officer – Dugan’s Travels
Our lives are made up of a series of choices. Recognizing this can be an empowering and energizing step on life’s journey for some, and yet others may find this daunting and overwhelming. It’s easy sometimes to fall in the trap of living on autopilot, with the perception that everything is happening to us and we don’t really get a say. It is often harder to accept that no matter what happens, we have free will to choose to some degree what comes next, because with this great realization comes great responsibility. We can no longer fall asleep at the wheel; we’ve got directions to choose and choices to make!
2020 was a true eye opener for so many people. As agents, we have been through so much in our industry and our personal lives, and we are still facing difficult months ahead. With so much uncertainty and no true right direction, we are going to have to continue to rely on our own discernment to make choices; even as we are faced with the unnerving reality of personal choice being taken away.
One of the most difficult byproducts of 2020 is the realization that everyone in the world has choices, and that we can easily become so deeply divided when we make choices that are different from one another. We are all being called constantly to make choices about both small daily things and what feel like enormous things (masks or no masks, travel or no travel, vaccine or no vaccine, homeschool or in person school?) and none of us has the true correct one-size-fits-all answer. The pressure of making the right choice is enough to make our heads spin.
It is often hard to comprehend why some people make choices that we would not make. Social media fuels that fire, as it has become a platform for people to fight about every decision and stay locked in algorithmic echo chambers that ensure we keep hearing and getting sucked into more of the same argument over and over again. It is a struggle for each of us on either side of an argument when we feel someone is making choices that makes us feel like we are having our own choice taken away. However even in that situation, we still are being called to use our discernment and make a choice about how to respond.
If someone is hurting you, you can choose to remove them from your life. If someone upsets you so much via social media, you have the choice to unfriend or unfollow. Similarly, in your business, if you do not feel like travel is right for you or your clients, you have the choice to not travel or sell it.
We are our choices. Each of us must be willing to use our best judgement and make the choice most suitable for our situation. We also must be willing to step into the unknown, knowing that we can’t possibly have all of the answers; sometimes we are going to make mistakes in choosing, and the only thing we can do in any given moment is give our best. Life is all about choices, which really just boil down to educated guesses and sometimes just plain old leaps of faith.
In my personal life, almost 8 years ago I lost my daughter Megan who was 22 months old. People often say to me, “I do not know how you made it through that.” The truth is, it was a choice I made. I had the choice to let it destroy me or learn to live through it. It changed me forever. Who I was before she passed away is not who I am today. Her death was the most difficult time in my life. We all have those moments in our lives where there is a crossroads. One choice would take you one way – the other leads you down a much different path. I like to think I made the right choice in choosing to live life to the fullest after my loss, but I know others who have made a different choice. It would be very egoistical of me to think my choice was the “right” choice for everyone, but it was the right choice for me.
What choice do we make now with all that our industry has experienced? Do we give up completely and veer onto another path? Do we make changes so that next time we are better prepared? Right now, my independent agents are working on their 2021 goals. I am encouraged by what I have seen. Many agents are looking forward and finding choices that are within their control that they can make to grow their businesses. I know not everyone will be able to recover from 2020 and I do not feel that choice is wrong if taking a different career direction is what someone needs at this point. I have had a few agents who left the industry a few months ago because they could not see a future who have already reached out about returning. Thankfully not all choices are set in stone and we can choose better when we know better!
I hope your choices will bring you a wonderful 2021. I hope you will find yourself making many decisions you can brag about when you reflect on 2021. If you make a choice you regret, I hope you can rectify it. I can say personally I am so happy I made the choice to start my travel agency back in 1997. This industry has allowed me to meet so many people I love and care about. I have people who inspire me every day. I have a deep love for my business, and that love is a choice I made a long time ago when I decided to continue to keep going even when it felt so very hard. Cheers to all the choices we have for 2021 ahead of us, and may each of us, even when faced with difficulties, make the choices that align us with our most fulfilling lives.