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by Thought Catalog on August 9, 2013

You begin The Oregon Trail by choosing one of three professions. A Banker has more money but no skills, a Carpenter has some money and skills with repairing your wagon, and a Farmer has absolutely no money but knows how to work your oxen. Whichever avatar you chose says a lot the kind of person you are and what you value. On life’s Oregon Trail, sometimes there are other skill sets that are more important than money. Money isn’t everything and rich get cholera, too.

2. Life Is One Big Matt’s General Store. The Better Prepared You Are For The Journey, The More Likely You’ll Succeed.

Life’s winners are the people who are the best prepared or, also, those who did not die from dysentery. It doesn’t mean they were born prepared, but that somewhere along the line they took the right steps to be ready for anything. Or at least had some kind of plan of action. Of course, you never know what life’s long Oregon Trail is going to throw at you — rain, snow, a stolen oxen. But preparedness is key.

3. Only Take What You Need.

There are a bunch of greedy people out there who always want bigger houses, bigger soft drink sizes, bigger EVERYTHING. But let’s just calm down, because sometimes you should be content with what you have or with what’s available, taking just what you need. It’s okay to have and want things, but there’s a thin line between wanting things and being a greedy trollop. But greed extends beyond buying everything at the General Store — or at Alexander Wang in my case. Whenever you take on too much, bringing too many things into your life wagon, well then the wagon gets so full that it can barely move and either it breaks down or you have to start throwing stuff out.

4. When You Get To A Deep River, Don’t Try To Ford It By Yourself.

We all have problems — depression, sexual performance issues, job woes, relationship troubles and the like. But that doesn’t mean you have to deal with them on your own. It’s really easy to say “To hell with everybody!” and do everything on your own, especially if you’re one of those people who likes to build complicated IKEA furniture by yourself. But everybody needs a hand sometimes. So when you meet that river and you’re given the following choices:

  • Attempt to ford the river?
  • Caulk the wagon and float it?
  • Take a ferry?
  • Wait a few days for the water to recede?

ALWAYS TAKE THE FERRY! That undertow can be a sneaky betch.

5. Don’t Go Too Slow, But Don’t Go Too Fast Either.

You have to keep a certain rhythm to your life. If you go too slowly, things will pass you by and you’ll never make it to where you’re going or where you want to be. But if you go too fast, you’ll end up a sloppy hot mess, and nobody wants to be like that. The race is won by the steady not the swift, so if you keep attacking life at your own personal pace, the pace that’s meant for you, that’s the best way to move forward. Even when other people seem to be succeeding at a faster pace than you, just keep it moving at your own pace and you’ll be alright.

6. When You Reach An Important Crossroads, Sometimes You Should Get Out And Look Around.

Sometimes we go through life with such tunnel vision that we forget to stop and take a breather every once in a while. Even when we think we have the best plans and we are trying to check off one accomplishment at a time, sometimes we need to stop and do a personal assessment. Are you really happy? What are you missing? How can you reach your full potential? You can only know the answer to these questions if you jump off the trail every now and then — but still keeping an eye on your oxen!!! — and see what else is out there.

7. On The Road To Your Dreams, Sometimes Diarrhea Shows Up And Jacks Everything Up.

We all have dreams and aspirations and plans and goals, but sometimes life throws obstacles in our way that prevent us from reaching our potential. We can never know the unknown. But it’s not to say that we should stop having goals or wanting to do things with our lives. But it is to say that sometimes, even with all the rigorous planning and doing things carefully, sometimes we have to take risks, to put ourselves out there and live in the moment. Why? Because tomorrow may never come. And if it does, you oxen might run away and then what do you do?