Have you ever established a goal, set your course, taken steps toward completion, and then watched it take a wacky detour? Yah. Me too.
How did it turn out for you? How would you define the outcome . . . negative or positive?
This happened to me recently. I was traveling two hours south for a business meeting, and I left early to be sure I arrived on time. I pulled up the GPS on my phone, typed in the exact address, and then I went along on my merry little way.
In case you don’t know this about me . . . bad traffic has, at times, caused me some pretty intense anxiety. But I chose to entertain happy thoughts as I drove, listened to an uplifting podcast, and pressed forward.
About an hour into the drive I received a loud notification that said, “Slow-down ahead. Your arrival time will be delayed 13 minutes.”
I thought, “That’s okay. It’ll be fine. I’ll choose to be calm and cheerful, and I’ve allowed enough time for unexpected delays.”
A couple minutes later, not yet having hit the traffic, a new notification went off. “Slow-down ahead. There is an alternate route that will save you 16 minutes. If you want to stay on your current route, press “dismiss”.
I may or may not have panicked for a few seconds.
I think we’ve all learned that change can be hard. I was already familiar with the route I was currently pursuing and was comfortable there. I reminded myself that I had allotted extra time to be a little late, but I thought . . . what if the GPS is messed up? What if it directs me across some ridiculous, broken-up gravel road in the tulies somewhere? (That’s a story for another time.) My heart was racing, and I’m sure some wise-guy angel was playing the countdown Jeopardy song in my head. There was no time to waste. I had to decide.
I clicked the “accept” button.
I was re-routed to another freeway, onto a highway, and then miles down the road I merged back into my familiar path. I experienced zero slow-down during the entire trip. The GPS gave clear directions in a calm voice, and I arrived at my destination a full hour early. For real.
Wow. What a ride.
Because I arrived ahead of time, I took the opportunity to really ponder what had just happened. I saw a beautiful parallel for life.
So here we go.
We each have a goal. More than one, I hope. And in order to achieve our aspirations, we have to be very clear at the onset about our final destination. What do we want our dreams accomplished to look like? This would be like the exact address I typed into my GPS.
The next step is to create a general plan to get there. Sometimes my GPS gives me a few different routes designed to get me to the same location. So, in our finite minds, we choose a plan that will move us in the right direction to obtain our desires.
Here’s the cool thing. It’s important to know the general direction of our destination, but we do not have to know all the steps. I was only familiar with a part of my path. The rest was in the hands of my GPS to take those last steps to get me to the correct address. The same thing is true for our goals. We just need the next step in moving toward them, but when we make the effort to take the steps that we do know, we prepare ourselves to receive further direction. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. One clue at a time? And who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Everyone needs some adventure in their lives, right?
Now it’s time for us to start moving. On my trip, I drove in the direction of my destination. I could have used the frontage road, taken the freeway, or traveled awhile on State Street, but no matter which option I chose, I was still progressing toward my meeting.
This applies to goal setting as well. Because we may not know all the steps to finish it, we simply need to move toward our objective in the best way we know how. And we’ll get there. Eventually.
As I traveled the long road, my GPS warned me of an upcoming slow-down. Isn’t it interesting that I had to make a choice? I could stay on my current path, enduring a snail’s pace for fifteen or more minutes, or I could trust my GPS to re-direct me without a decrease in speed. In that moment I took a chance, and my trip offered pleasant progression the whole time.
The path to reach our goals provides the same kinds of opportunities. We can choose to stay tuned in to the “Master Navigator” (a.k.a. God or our Higher Power) to give us ideas, new steps to take, and alternate routes. We know in traffic, and also when we pursue our dreams, there may be speed traps, fatigue, accidents, distractions, traffic, and even angry drivers. But as we stay connected to the Master Navigator, He sees ahead, He knows what roadblocks we’ll hit, and He gives wise and inspired ideas to smooth out the journey.
One more thing to consider — during my journey I was given the choice to stay on my current route, pressing “dismiss” or to accept the suggested change.
We will receive many thoughts and inspired ideas to encourage and support as we pursue our goals. In those moments, we, too, have a choice. Do we trust the Master Navigator enough to heed His wisdom and counsel? Even when it takes us out of our comfort zones into unfamiliar territory? Or do we play it “safe” and do what we’ve always done?
Accept? Or dismiss? We have a choice . . .
(Jeopardy music echoing in the background.)
What will you choose?