And I want to know: what do you think the word “there” is referring to?
Does it mean that, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you towards more having no idea where you’re going?
Does it mean that, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road you take will take you towards where you ultimately want to go? In other words, any movement is better than not moving at all?
I used to side with with the first interpretation. I used to assume that if you didn’t know where you were going, that was a bad, embarrassing thing. And that every ounce of your energy should go into figuring out where you wanted to go.
(Oh, and while you go about it, don’t tell anyone how lost you are inside. It would be so embarrassing to flail about until you first knew what your mission in life was.)
I used to assume the whole point was to figure it out, then move.
But over time, I now interpret this quote to mean something beautifully nuanced to say something entirely different. The truth is, if you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you closer to discovering where you do want to go. You will either discover you are warmer to your goal or cooler and farther away from it.
But by not moving or taking any road at all, nothing happens. You don’t get “there”. You are still “here”.
Lost is fine. Nothing wrong with being lost.
If you are lost and don’t know where you’re going, by not moving, you are still lost. If you take a tiny step and move, you at least get some information to help you make the next move.
That’s the whole point of life. Be where you are. Lost is fine. And take a small step.
It might be forward, backward, or to one side. But at least it’s movement that keeps you moving. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. An object in motion keeps moving. Even if it doesn’t know exactly where it’s going yet.
Most of the answers we seek about life can’t be found sitting behind a computer living in your head. It can be addictively complicated that way. The mind races with all sorts of contingency plans, with an infinite number of “what-ifs?” that can keep everything frozen for a long time.
Gotta figure out more “what ifs” first…
Recently a client came to me after having spent months on creating a business plan for her coaching practice. She wanted to discuss her plan. She had read many books on business planning and coaching. But she wasn’t clear what she wanted to coach people about.
Still, she felt that she should at least have a plan first. It felt productive to have that. Once she had a plan, then she would know what she should do next.
I explained to her that the only way she would know what she really wanted to do was to go out and try to do some of it. Without data of a real life experience, it was impossible to know. No amount of planning can answer the question of, “What do I really want to do?”
So I encouraged her to stop with the business planning and go out and work with some coaching clients. She did, and came back excited and much clearer on what she wanted to do.
One thing I’ve learned from my 15 years in working with thousands of clients is that people tend to spend too much time trying to understand what they want, rather than taking a step to experience what they want. Planning and reading are fine. But what feels like “figuring things out” can actually become a lifetime of waiting for the right moment. Or of designing every contingency plan for “what if’s?” that never get a chance to happen.
It’s the mind’s way of keeping us safe from risk. But without a step of action, nothing happens.
If people wait long enough, the “what ifs?” turn into “If only’s”. I have devoted my work to helping people harness where they are now so they can take action.
Try something that makes your heart bloom. If you’ve always wanted to sing, do that. It doesn’t mean you have to become a professional singer. But you will discover something about yourself through the process of singing that will lead you to the next step.
If you try something and you don’t like it, you will have at least learned something about what you don’t want. That’s valuable. You would at least have that, which you wouldn’t, had you stayed in your head with “what ifs”.
If you try something and discover you do like it, wonderful. Chances are it will inspire and encourage you to take the next small step. And that next step will be revealed to you only after you have taken the first step. Not before.
It’s too bad that many of us have taught to worry about things working out before making any moves at all. We want a guarantee or we just don’t want to bother with it at all.
Can you relate?
No one wants to make a mistake. We feel like that would be so awful…
But we weren’t born to be this way. Just observe how young children enjoy the excitement of their own aliveness in the moment, not worrying whether it makes sense or if is the “right” thing to do. We were born to be more like that…
Any endeavor that’s enjoyable is the real You. I had to learn this the hard way, when I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I was. Getting a mentor was invaluable. I had no concept of actually enjoying what I did, I did only what I thought I “should” do. And I was miserable for a long time…
Anything you try will produce results that can always be tweaked to be even better next time. Skills you don’t have yet or aren’t strong at can always be developed. But if you shove your spirit in a box by continuing to forcing yourself to do things you don’t like and mastering them, it’s likely you’ll just create more of it.
More mastery of stuff you don’t like, in hopes of actually enjoying life at some point — what’s the point of that? I did that for many years and it didn’t work. Or maybe you’re doing stuff you know that you’ve simply outgrown, or no longer really care about.
There’s another way.
So get intentional about taking a small step towards something that you want. Seek it out, rather than waiting for it to show up.
What would it be for you? It could be a step towards a new relationship, a new skill, a new way of parenting, a new job.
And no matter what happens, you’ll get feedback on what the next step should be after that. Life will always inform you. You won’t have to think so hard. You’ll know if you need to keep moving in that direction, or if you need to modify course. That’s all you need, really, to create a life worth living. Anything fabulous anyone ever created all started the same way for everyone. With one small step.
What do you think? I welcome your comments!
Before you go … Would you like a great way to feel better fast when life gets tough and you’re stressed?
Certified energy healer and mentor, helping sensitive, spiritual, perfectionist women create happiness and success in an imperfect world!