At least once, we all had the opportunity to go hiking. And, whether you’re an experienced hiker or not, let’s do a quick exercise. I want you to imagine that you’re back on the road looking forward to a new adventure.
No matter that you are not the expert that you wish you would be in regards to hiking and forests, you are now feeling a deep, burning desire to be there again, diving into nature, feeling the adrenaline and the utter freedom of being in the moment.
So you’ll start by preparing your backpack, then you will get into the car and drive to the nearest mountain. Now the journey begins.
The forest seems to be endless. With ups and downs. Some paths can be tedious and sometimes they would just simply disappear from sight. Step by step you walk calmly, looking forward to seeing the top, you enjoy the journey and sometimes you need to pay some extra attention to the natural traps hidden beneath the branches and dry leaves that cover the paths before you. These paths are either narrow that you can barely walk alone and ask yourself if it’s time to get back, or either wide, so you wish that a close friend or partner would have joined you in order to alleviate your loneliness. Tree markings are there keep you safe and on the right path. That is up until no markings are there to guide you anymore.
Are you lost?
And, at that very moment, a light feeling of regret is building up, and start thinking if it was a good idea to venture alone. You cannot find the right direction anymore, you are feeling confused and, maybe, compelled by a desire to quit.
Might at least feel familiar, it’s possible because such situations can and will be found in your personal and professional life.
Shifting the exercise to your professional life, you think about the fact that you’ve been working in a company for an over a couple of years now, and you feel like, professionally you’ve hit a plateau. Your passions are not getting sufficient attention and your workplace satisfaction is considerably decreasing from one day to another. Sometimes, you just feel completely unbalanced.
Back in the woods now, time passes, and nighttime approaches faster than you thought. You have to pick yourself up and act. How do you find your way to your goal? As you anchor in the present moment with a willingness to act, you can gratefully remember the orientation lessons you received while being in school. Following the sun’s position or locating the moss residing on the tree bark, you eventually get out of the woods, just right before sunset. And since you’re there, you decide to enjoy the spectacular view. As the sun begins to set on the horizon, you realize that a compass would have been very helpful and might’ve just helped you avoid getting lost.
Maybe our lives sometimes need a compass. A well-built one that helps us keep our balance even when we move away from our goals.
Each of us has a different way, but the tools that can help us successfully draw this road are, generally, the same.
So, the first step is to identify your personal coordinates. What’s your north? Identify the aspects that define you as an individual. You very own “personal azimuth”, as we like to call it.
How do you do that? By asking yourself the right questions.
First of all, you should ask yourself: “What can I do?” What are the skills and competencies that define you at the present moment? What have you been able to develop until now based on your affinities and knowledge accumulated over time? Do not think of any super talent. You do not have to be a Picasso of your own domain. It’s about your current abilities and how to best put them in practice.
The second question to address yourself would be: “What do I like to do?” Passions should not be hidden deep in a corner of your being or turned into hobbies, only to follow them when and if you have free time. They should be cultivated and developed so that they bring you inner joy and the feeling of aliveness. Improve your craft on a daily basis so you by investing time and energy, and, eventually, you will become better at it than you would ever imagine.
Finally, the answers to these two questions will prepare you for the third one, which comes almost naturally in the social context in which you are. “Through what I know and I like to do, can I financially sustain myself?” At this point, you need to identify the extent to which your skills and affinities are matched by market opportunities, or if you need to take action and create these opportunities yourself.
Once you have set the answers to these questions through a serious and sincere introspection, you will be able to build a guide, an interior compass that will help you outline your own personal and professional goals, keep you on the right track and guide you even when you deviate from the route. Just as when you were the forest and you were looking for the North to be able to guide you and find your way, they will always show you the north.
After defining them, of course, you need to set the time variables and resources needed to fulfill your dreams and desires, whether personal or professional ones, but also interim checkpoints, those increments that will break the long road into small objectives to meet. Accomplishing them will strengthen your belief that you are on the right track. And every accomplished goal must be celebrated because you are closer to your final destination.
The whole trip scares you, though you want it very much? Does it seem all too complicated and there are too many aspects to juggle with?
Breathe. You do not have to know all the steps you have to do from the beginning. It’s more important to start. Your route will gradually reveal itself with the right attitude: trust yourself and your destination. People who have achieved their goals and dreams have two things in common: their perseverance, regardless of the obstacles they have in the way and the confidence in their own compass.
Even if you are not seeing yourself as a persevering person now, through a series of well-traced coordinates, a great inner determination to accomplish them and long-term focus, you can find that force to overcome the obstacles that might appear in your way. After all, you managed to find your way in other forests too.
But, in the end, you may ask yourself, how can you keep your focus in order not to deviate from the route? How do others keep their perseverance? Do you have what you need in order to accomplish your objectives?
In the next week’s article, we’ll share a few stories about determination, focus, and patience.