A wise man once said, "I can predict the future."
"Amazing!" The people shouted, "How can you do that?"
"It's easy", he said, "Most likely it will be a continuation of the present."
Even when the path you are currently on is not taking you where you want to go, the lures of comfort, safety, security, and familiarity pull you to continue in the same direction. The notion of an easy and uneventful journey compels us to follow along the path of least resistance and complacently accept what life hands us.
The problem is that, the longer you follow the same route, the harder it is to get off. After a while, even when you come to a branch in the road, you blindly ignore it in favor of the expected and routine. When this happens, the future can be foreseen. Past experiences are simply recycled in the present.
How do you get on this predictable road? It’s easy really, you simply don't take the time to contemplate what's really important to you. You don’t think about what you want to accomplish, you don’t think about who you want to be, you don’t think about what will make you happy and content; all you do is react.
When a log blocks your path, you might find a way over it. To many people this is success. But it is only truly successful if by hurtling the log, you get yourself closer to your desired goals. If you haven’t thought about where you want to go, then how do you know whether you should go over the log or find a path that takes you away from the log altogether?
When your company downsizes, do you panic and send out resumes en mass, hoping to secure a job somewhere else before you are laid off? Or, do you use the opportunity as a time to contemplate starting a business, going back to school or finding a position that is better aligned with your core values, inner talents and strengths? When you are offered a new position in a different state, do you automatically uproot your family and move across the country, or do you ask yourself if the opportunity is really right for you?
You won’t know what alternatives to pursue if you don’t have a vision for your future. And without a vision, you won’t have the courage or motivation you need to swerve off your path. Some people think that the little devil you know, is better than the little devil you don't know. But if you continue to face the same demons, how will you ever find out if a devil even exists on the other roads available to you?
Through my life and career coaching experiences, I have found that most people know what they don't want in their lives, but cannot clearly envision the life they really do want. If I ask you not to think of a blue balloon, can you do it? Probably not, in fact you are likely thinking of a blue balloon right now. What that means is you are attending to the very thing I asked you not to. The same holds true for the things you don’t want. When you tell yourself what not to do or be, your attention will take you there anyway.
In order to make any changes in your life, all it really takes is to turn, perhaps ever so slightly, in the direction you truly want to go. Whether you turn east or west, north or south will depend on your vision for yourself. Here’s how to prepare to change your destination and alter your life’s itinerary:
- Accept where you are today. The present is the only place from which you can move forward. An attitude of acceptance allows change and opens up the opportunity to find a new direction.
- Allow yourself to carry only those experiences, beliefs and memories from the past that will support you on the road ahead.
- Remember that the past is a trail that is behind you. It is neither good or bad, only thinking it is, makes it so.
- Ask yourself, "Where can I go from here?" or "What steps can I take today that will take me down the path I really want to follow?"
The path of life has very wide shoulders; you are not limited to one narrow goat trail. Following the one, well-beaten trail you see will lead you on an unfulfilling journey. Create a vision for your future that excites you and motivates you, and then use that enthusiasm to clear a new trail – one that will take you exactly where you want to go, doing the things you are most passionate about, surrounded by the people you love.
About Dieter Pauwels:
Dieter Pauwels is a professional certified life, business and career coach, speaker and author, facilitating personal and organizational transformation. He works with both individuals and teams to create new possibilities, manage change and maximize their productivity and personal effectiveness.
You can visit his website at www.dieterpauwels.com or read his comments and thoughts on the impact of coaching on life and business on his blog at http://lifecoaching.dieterpauwels.com