Have you ever gotten lost? Most of the time we only get lost when we don’t follow instructions or directions. For example, you are trying to go to a new destination. You will most probably put the address in to your GPS or Google Maps and it will magically give you a path to take with step-by-step directions. If we can follow it correctly, there is a 99.99% chance that you will get to the destination without much of a problem. However, if you fail to correctly follow by missing a turn or ignoring its direction, your chances of getting to the destination is either reduced or you will hear the dreaded “rerouting or calculating”.
Life is pretty much like that. You will not suddenly get lost unless something happened along the way. For example, you will not suddenly gain weight overnight and wonder how did you put on 10kgs? Somewhere along the way, you would have indulged more than necessary, have very little to do with exercise and more being a couch potato, and maybe given yourself reasons as to why you should be rewarding yourself with that chocolate cake. No one gets to a certain point in their life suddenly. For most of us, it happens slowly and sometimes subtly that we don’t even notice when we are off the path and on to a different destination.
No one suddenly gets lost. Bad decisions made over time will be like the GPS situation which causes reroutes and redirections, not to your desired destination but to a destination that you had not planned for.
“The principle of the path” by Andy Stanley is a great book to read about how the direction of your life will determine the destination that you will end up in.
What distracts us which cause us to get off the path and toward a different direction?
There are 3 common reasons:
2. You know better.
3. Short cuts.
Let’s break it down.
This is the most common reason. We get distracted along the way. Just like following the directions from Google Maps when it tells you to turn right, but because you were distracted you had failed to hear the instructions and by the time you noticed it, you have missed the turn. So what do you do? Most probably you will either have to make a u-turn or follow a new set of instructions to get you back on track.
Why do we get distracted? Usually its because we have far too many things running around in our minds. The best and easiest way to solve this problem is to capture or to write down everything that you are thinking about. There is a great power in writing down and a great relief for your brain that it is no longer a list-keeper. Remember, your brain is not meant to be a list-keeper. When you have a long list running in your mind, you are distracted because it is consuming your brain power without it doing anything about it. Your mind is meant to be processing information and making decisions, solving problems and innovating. It is not designed to keep information without an end or a conclusion.
One of the reasons, people worry endlessly is because they are not able to put the “worry” down or in other words, process the worry into actionable items. For example, you are worried about forgetting to pay a bill. So long as you do not capture that action item, your mind will constantly be wasting precious cycles just trying to remember it, all the while giving you a sinking feeling that you will forget, which perpetuates the cycle of worry. However, if you write it down and schedule the time for you to pay the bill, you have essentially taken down the worry and given it a time and place to act on it. You will no doubt not be thinking about that task, but when the reminder appears you will just get that task of paying your bill done.
The simplest step that you can take to eliminate distraction is to capture it and schedule time to act on it.
You Know Better.
Yes, that’s right, you think that you know better than the GPS and you might know best if you know where you are going. But, if you are in an unfamiliar territory, do you really know best? For example, if you are travelling in a new country or going to a new place for the very first time, do you really know better than Google maps? One of the reasons, men get lost more often than women and this is not based on my assumptions, but proven research is because of pride. Men somehow think that they know the way and then when they are lost, they will not ask for directions or help. All the while getting further off the destination or getting more lost.
Yes, pride is our biggest enemy when it comes to the decisions that we make along the way to our destination. I think that its also a safe bet to say that we have all gotten “lost” because of our pride. When we look back on some of the decisions that we have made, we can laugh about it, as for the most part it wasn’t disastrous because we had probably course corrected earlier, rather than later. However, if you course corrected too late, the consequences could be bad.
For example, an addiction does not happen overnight. It takes a series of bad decisions that leads someone down that path. The best remedy for this is to engage in a healthy feedback environment. Your friends, family, work colleagues who are able to provide you with feedback will help you to keep your pride in check. Feedback is one of the most important tools that you have to ensure that you do not fall into the “you know better” syndrome.
We certainly don’t like long road trips. We want to get to our destination as quickly as possible and if there is short cut, all the better. However, I am sure that you know that usually short cuts don’t happen often and, in most cases, short cuts are actually harder than the “normal” paths.
We all need patience. Some of you might know that I think the wisest creature is Yoda from Star Wars who said, “Patience you must have, my young padawan.” Isn’t it true? We want everything now and if we can get it with as little effort, even better. Short cuts might seem to work in the short term, but in the long run, you will realise that you have lost a lot more along the way.
Try to avoid the short cuts, the instant rewards or gratification. The path may seem shorter and quicker but the destination may not be what you had anticipated or wanted.
The best remedy against short cut is patience with purpose. You will need to be clear on what and where your destination is. For example, the end goal of financial success is not having a target number in the bank account, because after all, we will all die and can’t take it with us. The end goal of financial success is how much impact you have made with your generosity of giving and serving others.
No one gets lost suddenly. No one wants to get lost. You only get lost when you are distracted, think that you know better and when you take short cuts. Don’t stumble into a destination that you had not intended. The good news is if you have taken a few wrong turns, it is not the end of the world. You can still make the necessary corrections. Do it sooner than later. Listen to your GPS!
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. As always, please subscribe, follow and share this podcast with your friends. Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.