Life is full of choices

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Duane Bragg
  • 341st Medical Support Squadron commander
Every day we face choices in life. The choices we make determine who we are. Joining the Air Force determined your career, where you live and how much you earn. Every decision sends you down a path. Did you go to college? What school did you choose? Did you come into the Air Force right out of high school? These decisions determined who we met, socialized with, and our experiences. For some of us, these decisions determined who we married. Your choice of spouse not only impacts your day-to-day decisions, it creates another branch on the family tree. 

It may be very obvious that choices determine your life, but many people approach decisions with a short-term focus and don't think about how decisions today may close a door of opportunity a month, a year, or even 10 years down the road. Passing up an opportunity for school in your 20s may mean you will have to work much harder for an education in your 30s with a spouse, teenagers, and a mortgage payment. Not studying your professional military education limits your ability to advance and leaves you behind your peers. You may end up working for that sharp Airman someday. 

We all need to weigh the pros and cons of every decision and think about the short and long term consequences. Where do you think you will be in five, 10, and 20 years? Where do you want to be? To reach your dreams - personal, professional and financial - goals are necessary to help you succeed. Once you've set goals, use them to frame your decision making. Ask yourself how will this decision help me reach my goals? Will it prevent me from reaching a goal? How will that tattoo impact my ability to get certain jobs? How will it look when I'm 65? How will leasing that new sports car affect my finances now and in the future? 

The military has a great retirement plan, but you still must be financially and professionally prepared. Can you get a good job, do you have enough money saved for the future? All decisions have a cause and effect relationship. You need to think about the effect. To quote Robert Frost, "Two Roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference". Life is full of choices. Think ahead, choose wisely, and don't be afraid to buck the crowd.