Looking for direction? Tips to consider when you’re at a crossroads in life

At a crossroads in life

At a crossroads in life

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”~ Lao Tzu

One of the common themes from clients I coach, and people I meet, is a search for direction in their life.

Maybe some of the following questions resonate with you:

  • What is my life all about?
  • Why am I here?
  • What road shall I take next?
  • Where have I been, and where am I going?

Lost and found

I recently attended a conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  It was my first visit to the city, and the persuading factor for me to invest in the opportunity was the chance to reconnect with someone I hadn’t seen for 25 years. She lives twenty minutes from the venue, so it was fortuitous for us both.

Generously she lent me her car to drive to and from the hotel for three days.

On the first day I set out with written directions from a good friend of hers. It all looked fairly uncomplicated, and the journey went surprisingly smoothly until I was almost at my destination. I exited the motorway as instructed, at junction 4. However, the roundabout that I came to didn’t have the signposts and directions I was expecting, and I spent the next half an hour trying different routes until I finally accepted I needed to ask for help.

I had no road map, and the GPS on my iPhone wouldn’t work.

Luckily I’d left myself plenty of time, recognising I was going somewhere completely new, and I wanted to arrive promptly. So I called the venue and explained my predicament, and attempted to describe where I was. It turned out that the map I’d been given contained an error – the junction I needed was junction 5 not 4. I’d come off too early.

English: GPS navigation solution running on a ...

GPS system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once I returned to the motorway and found the right route, I encountered no further problems. The remaining journey was simple.

Returning later that day to my friend’s house, I realised that although I’d followed the directions FROM there, I hadn’t even thought to look where I’d been so I could get back!

Once again, I got a little lost and ended up phoning for help. It was fairly easily solved, but did involve my friend coming to meet me and I followed her back to her beautiful home. The next few days weren’t a problem, I memorised the route.

I did however hear, after the three days of travelling, that on two of those days, bomb threats had closed motorways for some of the time. With no road map and no GPS system, what would I have done then?

A sense of adventure

There’s so many ways nowadays to look at different possibilities, all I had to do was search the route and print out a map.

Maybe I liked the sense of adventure, the thought of going into the unknown and seeing where it led me, without having all the answers?

The experience got me thinking about life and the paths we take, and I’d like to suggest some tips to consider for those crossroads in life we all come to from time to time:

  1. Sometimes it’s fun to just go with the flow and see where life takes you. We can get caught up with always needing to know exactly where we’re going, and when we’re likely to arrive. However …
  2. If you don’t know where you’re going, relying on someone else to tell you can have its limitations. Often if we’re very familiar with a place, we forget the finer points of how we got there, and can unknowingly give others erroneous directions and advice.
  3. When the path you’ve taken feels ‘wrong’, don’t keep going round in circles – stop and seek assistance. Asking for help when we’re lost is a sign of strength, not weakness. Continuing to do the same thing over and over, will lead to the same results.
  4. Being prepared for contingencies (setbacks and complications) along the way will save time in the long run. What are the potential challenges on your path, and how can you manage them?
  5. Know where you’ve been – especially if you have to return there for a while! Not being aware of where we’ve come from can limit us – it’s not just the destination that’s important, it’s the whole journey, and the experiences along the way, that enrich our lives.

What strategies have you found helpful when you’ve felt lost and directionless?

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