Every Road Won’t Get you Where you Want to Go!

Boy traveler exploring route mapDebbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I love Alice in Wonderland, and think there are tremendous lessons to be gleaned from Lewis Carroll’s books and poems. I’m not sure I agree with his, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” sentiment though.

If I don’t know where I want to go, I’m likely to just wander aimlessly, or maybe even sit on the path going no where at all. I turn around or get rerouted at even the slightest rough spot. Worse yet, I blaze a path through those brambles to find that I’ve arrived far from where I might like to be. There are times to wander! There are times to just sit on the path, build a fire and roast marshmallows. There are also times, though, when I need to figure out where I’m going and how to get there. I prefer some kind of loose plan, a compass and maybe even a rough map to get me from here to there. I prefer to drive. I’m not a passenger kind of girl.

So where are you going? The first thing you need to do is determine your destination. Are you where you want to be at this moment? Are you where you dreamed you’d be? Is there something you want to change or certain goals you want to accomplish? Write them down, even if they seem lofty and unattainable at this moment. If they don’t challenge you, if they don’t scare you a little bit, they aren’t big enough!

Next, anchor your goals to the reasons you want to achieve them. With the popularity of leadership models like Six Sigma and Lean, “identifying your why” has become quite popular. Frankly, I think it’s a little over-used. “What’s your why?” confuses many people. It’s so nebulous. What does that even mean? These programs originated as forms of root cause analysis. Each advocates asking yourself “why” 5 times, both as a means to identify the reason an issue occurred in the first place, and as a means to brainstorm solutions. Outside of their manufacturing origins, it goes something like this. A new client says to me, “I want to lose weight.” Why? “Because I don’t feel good about myself right now. This is the heaviest I’ve ever been.” Why? “Because I’ve let myself go.” Why? “Because I’ve been so busy with work and taking care of the kids.” Why? At this point I’m typically met with a good deal of frustration. “What do you mean, why? Because they are my family and I love them. They rely on me for a lot of things. So do my co-workers. My boss expects me to get everything finished. If I don’t personally do these things, they won’t get done. There’s not enough time in the day.”

Valid points.

Well, maybe. As a recovering perfectionist, if I were honest, I’d have to tell you that I put a lot of that pressure on myself. No one else expects me to get all of these things done. I expect me to get all of these things done. I have actually received two different performance evaluations (from two different people, in two very different jobs) over the years, where supervisors wrote that I pushed myself too hard, and established unrealistically high expectations. Now, if you were honest, who is actually setting those expectations for you?

So, they MAY be valid points.

For that reason, I prefer to substitute, “what if” for that last “why”. What if the laundry doesn’t get folded tonight? What if there is something left in your in-box at the end of the day? What if you eat leftovers for dinner? What if you allowed yourself 30 – 60 minutes a day of personal time? If you can’t do that, what if you involved your family in your goals? Or, what if you change nothing at all and continue doing what you’re doing? What will the result be? Then, and only then, I ask the final “why”? Why don’t you overcome a few of those obstacles and objectives and go after what you want?

Spend some time thinking about these last few things. When times get hard, and they will at some point, reflecting on these thoughts brings you back to your focus. They create the topography for your map! They will help to justify your opportunity costs. What’s that? Just the terminology given to the fact that you have to choose where to spend your moments. Contrary to all the hype about “doing it all”, the reality is that if you’re doing A, you can’t do B. There are 24 hours in the day.

Thinking about the journey, looking at the map, and developing a great plan, does nothing to move you forward though. I heard someone once say that plans without action are just dreams. So I’m asking you, do you truly want to make a change? Not, “does someone want this for you”, or “should you change?” But…do you truly want to make a change?

If the answer is yes, take a deep breath and start planning your trip. When you’re going cross-country, you don’t just hop in the car and teleport to your destination (wouldn’t that be awesome!!). First you might have to have the oil changed, get air in the tires, and top off the tank. You have to navigate the roads between here and there. You have to stop for gas, endure traffic (slowdowns and maybe even standstills), and go around detours. There are potential consequences for going too fast. Every one of those things can happen on your personal journey too.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.22.53 AMDon’t get too overwhelmed. You need a road map at this point, not a globe! Find the “you are here” X and expand the circle ever so slightly around that point. Plan your route only to the next major intersection. I do this when I run. I pick something I can see in the distance and I run to that. Once I get there, I pick something else and run to that. (Please note that this works well unless you are trying to run in Texas! That oilrig you can see might actually be ten miles away from where you are! Don’t ask how I came to learn that!). The point is, break each objective into smaller goals. You don’t drive from DC to Seattle without a few pit stops. Remember, too, you can’t control traffic or weather on your trip. You also cannot control the earth’s gravitational pull so don’t say you want to gain or lose XYZ pounds.

  • You can decide to walk three or four days this week. If you’ve been walking, you can decide to throw in a few periods of jogging. If you’ve been jogging, you can pick up your pace.
  • You can cut your soda consumption in half (or even just by a quarter if you need to).
  • You can buy an individual serving of the food you’re craving, instead of the family size.
  • You can forego dessert with two or three of your meals this week.
  • You can lift weights, or lift heavier, a couple of times.
  • You can include more vegetables with one or two meals every single day.
  • You can decide to drink at least two glasses of water every day, and build from there.
  • You can decide to go out to eat fewer times.
  • You can decide to add more protein to at least one meal every day.
  • You can bring your lunch three or four days this week.
  • You can park further from entrances and walk just a little bit each time you get out of the car.

You can achieve your goals, health related or otherwise. What you need to do is SOMETHING. Anything. Not everything, and most certainly not everything all at once. Start at your beginning. Your call to action is this: Identify the one thing you could commit to start doing today that, if you do it consistently, will get you closer to your goal.

Do that one thing. Get used to it. Get comfortable with it. Make it a habit. Next week, the week after, or – heck – a month from now, pick one more new thing to start working on.  Enjoy the ride, but get on the road!! …and, bring your map.

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    • Sylvia on August 30, 2015 at 01:29
    • Reply

    I’d love to hear about that oil rig! LOL! Great words, my friend.

    1. Thank you soooo much, Sylvia!!! I really appreciate that you always read my stuff but also take the time to comment! It means the world to me. Yes, the oil rig! We were in Wichita Falls when I went out for my first Texas run. I saw an oil well in the distance and said to Brent, “let’s run to that”. He tried to warn me. I wouldn’t listen. That dang thing was like FIVE MILES away!!!!!!! ….and then I had to come back. I went from that to counting telephone poles instead. xo

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