A narrative is a story you tell yourself, generally about the past and the future. You tell yourself lots of stories, actually. Stories about yourself, stories about the world. Sometimes these stories pull you hard in a direction when you’re making a decision.

Maybe your narrative is that you’re a pitcher. You wanted to pitch in the major leagues when you were a kid. Your heroes were people like Tom Seaver or Nolan Ryan or Pedro Martinez or whomever. You pitch for your high school team. You love it. And now two colleges want to give you scholarships: one wants you to pitch, the other wants you to focus on your hitting and move to first base.

Which one are you more likely to pick?

Your narrative sits there in your head and tells you the answer is obvious: You pick the one that lets the story — a story you cherish — continue.

I’m not here to tell you to embrace that narrative or any other one. Or to avoid narrative thinking like this. What I will say is this: You have some control over the stories you tell yourself. You can commit to one or you can throw it away. You can let it influence your decisions or you can focus on other factors. You get to choose.