I went on a hike the other day with an amazing group of people. One of the women was not an outdoor person and so before she headed off, her loved ones gave her some tips, including, “Make sure you have a compass.”
I found her rotating her compass until she located true north and then she looked up at me and said, “Now that I have north, what do I do with it?”
I explained that without a map or general mental picture of the area, a compass can basically only ensure that you’re not traveling in circles, chasing your tail while in pursuit of an exit.
Conversely, a map without a compass is also of limited use. A goal without orientation or direction provides little more than hope.
But when combined, a map and a compass become a powerful tool. A wise and prudent guide in your hand taking you from where you are to where you want to be.
Any major life transition is not unlike being lost in the woods. The terrain is unfamiliar, the steps feel endless and panic can easily set in as you frantically seek an exit.
Start With Your Goal
Hopefully you have at least the rough outlines of a map – a picture of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Take the time to firm up this image. What words do you associate with the life you want to have? What does this life look like? Feel like? Make it as specific and tangible as possible.
Find Your True North
Reconnect with your core values and purpose. Think about those beliefs and passions that have persisted in you since childhood. If you’re struggling to identify these in yourself, ask your loved ones what words come to mind when they think about you. Look for similarities and trends in their answers. Let this be your guide.
Identify Your Obstacles
You know where you want to go and you know where you’re starting. Determine and name the possible barriers in the way of your destination. Although it’s tempting to begin your journey and just hope for the best, it’s prudent to be both mentally and physically prepared for the difficult stretches.
Hold Your Course
Once you have chosen your path, deviate from it as needed with your compass in hand. If you veer too far, you may find that you have lost your focus on what is important. If you refuse to be flexible in your approach, you may find that you become stuck.
Be Realistic In Your Goals
Much like the scale on a map, the scope of life’s journeys can be deceptive. Always allow plenty of time to get from one landmark to another and be forgiving with yourself about needing periods of rest. And remember that suggested times needed for the trail are just that – suggestions. Your use may vary.
Don’t Be Afraid to Explore
When you have you goals mapped out and you’re using your compass as a guide, it’s hard to get too lost. So take some time to explore what lies off the beaten path. Yes, it may be a dead end. But it also may be just what you’ve been looking for.