When All You See is the Path, You Lose the Destination

I took my second jiu jitsu class today. For the most part, the language of the mat is as unfamiliar to me as Latvian was last month. But every so often, a phrase will reach my ears that makes perfect sense.

At the end of class, my husband has everybody circle up and share one thing they did well in class that day.

(As an aside, how awesome is that? Jiu jitsu is one of those sports where you spend years getting your ass handed to you over and over again. It’s easy for people to leave a class feeling defeated. This one simple ritual helps overcome that negativity spiral. And this is an easy habit that we can ALL do at the end of every day.)

One relatively new student shared about how he’s starting to understand how moves link together and the importantance of not becoming too wedded to a particular attack.

I immediately nodded in understanding, as this was a lesson I learned many years ago in fencing. When you become too committed to one particular move, you become frustrated and easily stuck if that move is thwarted. You become more focused on the specific path than on the desired overall outcome.

My husband described it this way –



The picture on the top is what happens when you become too committed to a particular attack. You develop tunnel vision and you no longer are able to see the other possibilities.

The bottom picture shows a better approach. Know what you’re going for, but also be aware of everything around it. And don’t be afraid to change your approach.

Good stuff, that.

On my afternoon run, I got to thinking about how this same idea applies to life. It’s so easy to get overly focused on how we’re going to reach our goals (a specific partner, a particular job, a desired number of children, an anticipated income), that if those are taken away from us, we feel frustrated and stuck. We become so wedded to those particular things that we cannot see another option.

I went through a little thought exercise on my run. I’d like to share it with you and have you try it too.


First, I want you to think of your major life goals/values/driving principles.

Nope, those are too specific. Try again. To help keep them broad, limit yourself to two.

Here’s mine –

  1. I want to leave my little campsite that I’m occupying for my time on earth just a little better than I found it.
  2. I want to live a life that is driven by love not fear.


Next, think about what you’re doing in your life right now that helps to meet that goal.

Again, I’ll share some of mine with you –

Goal 1

  • As a teacher, I’m using some of the deficits in my own math instruction to help me reach more students in a meaningful way.
  • After feeling so alone during divorce, I’m working to use my experience to help others that are going through similar.

Goal 2

  • I continually find ways to persevere despite my anxiety about a situation. This could be anything from going down a hill (seriously. I know.) to initiating a difficult conversation with my husband.
  • In the classroom, I choose to handle classroom management through relationship building rather than punitive discipline, which is often motivated by a fear of the kids gaining the upper hand.


Lastly, brainstorm some other ways that you could also work towards that same goal that you do NOT currently have in your life.

Here are just a few of mine for goal 1. This is brainstorming, so they run the gamut –

  • volunteer in my community
  • win the lottery and donate a significant sum to a charity
  • pick up trash that I encounter on the trail or the river
  • make an effort to make everyone I speak to feel valued and important
  • go camping and leave behind a “welcome” note with a little firewood for the next guests
  • use my teaching skills to train people in a particular skill so that they can find employment


It’s amazingly freeing to step back sometimes and truly see how many possibilities there really are. Even if I lost my job tomorrow, never wrote another blog post and ended up divorced and broke again, I could still find ways to move towards that life goal. (Note to the universe – this is NOT a challenge!)

And that’s a pretty awesome realization.

Even when you lose one approach, you’re not out.

It just means it’s time to try something else.



Thank you for sharing!

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