Life is a grand journey indeed, but without direction it's easy
to get lost along the way. Direction also serves to keep us focused
and helps us to maintain a positive outlook. In my own life, I've found
three basic principles helpful in adding direction and increasing positive
forward momentum; Establishing Goals, Maneuvering Past Obstacles, and
Setting goals is one way to give our lives direction and
purpose. Without these it's easy to fall into the trap of running in circles –
never achieving what we want in life. When setting goals it's
important to set both long and short term goals.
One function of your short term goals is to keep you on track to
accomplishing your long term goals. Think of it this way;
your long term goals are something you put up on a high shelf, and your short
term goals are the ladder you use to reach that shelf – each rung of the
ladder being a different short term goal. With each step up the ladder
you achieve another short term goal and get just that much closer to achieving your
long term goals.
When you apply this "ladder" approach to setting and
achieving goals, you do two things:
First, you give yourself positive reinforcement by achieving a
different goal with each step up the ladder. This gives you a feeling of
success and provides a sense of continual forward motion – forever moving
closer to your long term goals.
Secondly, your short term goal ladder provides you with a
roadmap of sorts – guiding you to your long term goals.
No matter what goals you set for yourself this simple technique
can help keep you focused and positive, better allowing you to achieve
MANEUVERING PAST OBSTACLES
Even with the best of planning, one thing is certain – life
will always throw us a curve ball. It's not possible to make contingency
plans for all possible obstacle which may block our path down the road.
A more realistic approach is to simply accept the fact that along our life's
journey we will encounter obstacles. By accepting this fact and resolving
in our minds that when we encounter these obstacles we will not allow these to
impede our forward progress, we better enable ourselves to deal with these
situations when they arise.
Think of it as going on a road-trip. You select your
destination and carefully plan your route. You pack your bags and have the
car serviced in preparation for the trip. You've done all things necessary
to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. However, after driving only a short
distance you encounter an unexpected detour. This wasn't part of your
original plan and certainly wasn't accounted for in the route you designed.
What do you do? Do you stop and do nothing? Do you turn your car around
and head for home? Of course not. You assess the situation, check your map
for the best way around the obstacle, follow whatever detour signs may be posted,
and continue on.
Accepting the fact that we will encounter obstacles along our
journey is the first step to being able to maneuver around these when they
Conquering problems and maneuvering past obstacles go hand in
hand. One key in effectively dealing with the problems we face is dispatching
them as quickly as we encounter them. Ignoring problems may work
in the short term, but without fail these problems return, and when they do they
are often much larger and more difficult to manage.
Unfortunately, there will be times when we are faced with
problems which appear ominous – problems of such magnitude we feel
overwhelmed and helpless to resolve them. When we encounter these types of problems
it is crucial that we don't focus on the problem as a whole. Typically
these ominous problems are not just one problem, but rather a series of small
problems all rolled into one.
Break down the problem into parts. Then focus on resolving
one part at a time. Just as the short term goal ladder gives us
confidence and direction, so does conquering each part of a large problem one by one.
As we move forward, solving parts of the larger problem, we get a sense of
accomplishment which provides us with the confidence and
direction needed to continue on. Before we know it, that once ominous problem
is now completely and effectively resolved, allowing us to get back on track.
One last thing about conquering problems: sometimes no matter
how hard we try there will be problems which cannot be solved – problems which
are out of our control. When we encounter these types of problems we need
to recognize them for what they are and focus our energy on revising our
"roadmap" rather than butting our heads against something which is not within our
control and cannot be changed. I once heard it said, "If there IS
a solution to the problem, why be unhappy? If there's NOT a solution to the
problem, why be unhappy?
Give your life direction – set some goals, design your own
life's roadmap, have the courage and confidence to move past whatever obstacles
and problems block your way. Remember, life stands still for no one.
If we're not moving forward, we most assuredly are falling behind. And perhaps
most importantly, don't forget to enjoy the journey itself. Happiness and
fulfillment are meant to be found along the way, not some prize to be had at the