If we had to take a trip to New York, we could probably do it. Money aside, the physical action of getting ourselves from one place to another is relatively straight forward to most people. We would need to get ourselves to the airport, get on a flight to New York and there we would be. We put our current position in relation to our end destination and make the small steps in between.
We need to follow the same process to achieve our dreams and yet we can find it difficult to associate our end destination with our current position. This can make it impossible to make those joining steps in between.
Many times in my past I have had a separate dream destination to the path I was on. I clung to the hope that something would change and my dream would come and seek me out. If you dream of being a writer, but never find time to write, or want to run your own business but keep working for someone else, you are on a journey, but you may not be going where you want. It is like wanting to go to New York but taking a train to Paris instead. Perhaps because everyone is travelling to Paris, it’s easier to get to and you are more familiar with it than New York.
The only thing that can change your path however, is you. You have the choice to switch tracks and make changes but it is a bit trickier than just hopping on a different train or plane. Is your current journey completely out of line with your end destination? Don’t get me wrong, I still find myself doing things which don’t directly contribute to my dreams, but I am getting better at stopping and checking the map. Is this just a detour to say Toronto, or am I heading for the Antarctic?
Without even trying to get to New York however, you are more likely to get that train to Paris. You might reach New York eventually, and no doubt Paris is beautiful…but you might wake up one day with the thought in the back of your mind that the people around you just aren’t…well speaking your language?
Why is it so easy to get side-tracked?
- Sometimes we don’t know where we want to go
Perhaps we’ve never stopped to ask ourselves or perhaps we just don’t know. If you haven’t figured it out just yet then don’t worry, but you should at least know what things you enjoy doing and what you don’t. Visualising this end goad is very important even when it comes down to the little things like our daily work. Check out how visualising even overcomes procrastination in this post from the fantastic Men With Pens blog – and their first female guest writer.
- Sometimes the map is smudged and covered in mud
If only there were a clear map to your dreams, life would be so much simpler. Unfortunately, we’re not always sure what steps will lead to our destination and which won’t. Think about it this way though, by working towards your passion you’re more likely to be doing things you love and even if you don’t reach the destination you’ll enjoy the journey. If you don’t work towards something you’ll love, you’ll almost certainly never reach your destination and you’ll hate each step along the way.
- We get side tracked with responsibilities
How many times have you thought to yourself “if it wasn’t for: the job, the mortgage, the rent, this bad relationship, the kids etc I’d be doing x, y and z?” You might not be ready to uproot the children to live on a boat off France, or break off the relationship that is holding you back, or sell the house that comes with the mortgage payments, but remember that it isn’t these specific things stopping you – it’s your personal preference. That’s not to be glib about responsibilities, but rather than think about what you might lose by going after your dream, think also about what you might gain: A better house in a more affordable location, happier children with a happier mum or dad, a relationship that complements you and your passions?
How can we hook up our next steps to our end destination?
- Honestly ask yourself what you want
Don’t think about the things you think you are supposed to like or do. We’re here for a short time and a long time so why waste any of your precious moments or energy on the things you don’t enjoy
- Find balance
There will always be responsibilities and obligations and you need to find a balance between how happy you are keeping your obligation. For example, I don’t enjoy filing receipts weekly, but I know I would enjoy it a lot less if my tax return came and I had to try and file them all in one go. I make a choice to file them and I’m genuinely happy with that. I don’t always want to run in a morning but I would enjoy being unfit a lot less so even though I’m sleepy and warm in bed, I hit the sea front because it is a short discomfort on the way to long term happiness.
- Keep checking your progress
Don’t fall asleep on that train to Paris and wonder why you aren’t in New York. Keep checking in with yourself and make sure the detours are the ones you want to make.
Have you ever found yourself heading in the wrong direction? Or wondered what your direction was?
Have you overcome obstacles to change your path and reach your destination?
Have you gone against the crowd to achieve a destination other people thought you’d never do?
Above all else – enjoy the journey.