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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

The Four Paths

Whenever we fail to make a decision, we fail to grow.

As we approach each of life’s proverbial forks in the road, we are not faced merely with two potential courses of action; rather, as many as four choices appear at each fork.

The right path. Often the correct decision is glaring: the right path is illuminated, clear for miles, obvious to everyone. Whenever this is the case, seize the opportunity—take the right path.

The wrong path. Some paths are blatantly incorrect, crammed with unnecessary obstacles and venomous creatures. Avoid these routes, even when they seem beautiful, tantalizing, or easy.

The left path. Sometimes the fork presents two equally viable options: the right path is right, but so is the left—or maybe you cannot tell which path is correct. In these instances, it is most important to simply pick either path, using all available relevant information, and keep moving forward. Even if we pick the wrong path, we grow from the failure.

No path. When faced with two unknown paths—left and right—we often freeze with indecision, and then we stay stuck with decision-making paralysis. This is the worst option of all: not deciding is always a bad decision.

Read this essay and 150 others in our book, Essential.