Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cant' get there from here!

"...vague goal like “be happy” or “be rich” or wishy washy objectives."

It seems obvious as you are assigned as navigator; map unfolded giving forewarning of upcoming exits to the driver. The map in front of you is a mess of intersecting lines, but with a keen eye on the destination, the peripheral lines, not marked with a highlighter are unimportant peripheral clutter, as you focus on the road you are travelling and which exit is next to get you nearer to your destination.

I wonder what age; a person becomes capable of reading and interpreting a map, and how to target a destination, and more importantly not to follow roads that take you in the wrong direction. But I am confident in my belief by the time we become adults; this is a natural and easy task.
What seems to be impossibly difficult at times, as adults, is managing the endless number of decisions we need to make in our personal and professional lives... so many choices, so many options, so many ramifications of our every decision. Decisions that will take us off in many different directions, decisions that affect other decisions. A daily, even hourly, exercise that every human must endure.

Let’s go back to navigating now, the map on your lap, a driver anxiously awaiting notification on what is the next exit, what highway should we be on. But, this time, you are not fortunate to have a highlighted trip marked out, and even worse.. no destination identified. Now the map is a large unfolded confusing mess of lines, colors, numbers, and pictures.

I think you see where I am going with this (even without a map)

In order to make correct decisions in our lives, we need a destination. Not a vague goal like “be happy” or “be rich” or wishy washy objectives. We need to make specific, tangible destinations. Something that every decision (EVERY), can be help up against the destination. As we reach crossroads (nice play on words there I must say), the decisions are crystal clear when we pause to say “Will this get me closer to my goal”. If not, then it is not the right decision. Major or minor work and personal decisions can be held up to destinations that you have defined for each.

Driving down the highway, and taking an exit that leads you to something interesting, may result in a meandering country side drive that takes you far away from your planned destination.. And could even possibly take you to a point that getting to your destination is impractical, so you offhandedly select a new goal, then another, then another as you drive endlessly in circles around the continent. Never reaching the well thought out and desired outcome of your trip.

These side roads are tempting, and often appealing for the short term, but can lead to failure in the big picture. Personal decisions are easy to send us off to travel in endless circles. 
Unfolding your personal or professional map, be very specific, measurable when placing a mark on it, circling it and committing to that is where you end up. Then as you encounter traffic circles, off ramps, crossroads, detours the choices are very simple and uncluttered and all of the other roads on the map are just indeed unimportant peripheral clutter.

“Will this [insert choice of decision here] bring me closer to my goal?”.. repeat, repeat, repeat.


  1. To carry your analogy further, in Adventure Racing the most important thing is to always be aware of where you are. Specifically.

    If you don't know exactly where you are, and if you don't pay attention all along your route, it will be much more difficult to make turn by turn decisions.

    Keep your heads up and your thumbs tracking on the map folks! Otherwise you will be lost in the back-country of your lives.

    Darryl, ask yourself, where are you?

  2. I meant to also add, a more difficult map than one with a lot of roads(like above) is the one with very few. Sometimes you have to cut your own path. (Geesh, I'm liking your map analogy. It works all over the place)