The Direction of Your Life is Never Direct

Photo by GlacierTim on Flickr

Direction of your Life is Never Direct

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my life so far is that no matter what I think is the most “direct” way to experience or learn something, life has entirely different plans. But beyond this sentiment sounding like fodder for boring bumper stickers and endless motivational posters, there is a much bigger, often overlooked truth nestled in here. The direction of your life is never a direct, straight line so why do you expect it to be?

You often don’t realize the limitations you create when you try and plan every single detail and become attached to a very specific way for your life to unfold because in reality, you don’t have the right tools and knowledge to do so BEFORE you have experiences to teach you what will bring you happiness. And if you don’t fancy yourself as a big dreamer, then whatever expectations you think you can conjure up will simply pale in comparison to what will actually show up and give you an opportunity to choose for (or against) and learn about yourself in the process.

To Plan or Not to Plan — Isn’t that Always the Question?

Look, I’m not saying to completely give up plans altogether by any means. Just create plans that are solid at their core in terms of desire, but flexible in their execution. The best kinds of plans are led by the heart and mind working together, guiding you by passion and common sense in balance, like a tandem bicycle.

Going directly from A – Z in life may seem like an easier deal, but it would also imply you are on a railroad type track that is already planned out with scheduled stops and the occasional unexpected delay. Just keep in mind, trains don’t suddenly “jump” to a different track or new experience. So that would mean one, direct clear track would be the only way you could ever travel, and that might not feel great once you realize you may change your mind or want something entirely different.

Here’s an example of this very principle that happened for me early in my career. I moved to Colorado about 13 years ago from the east coast. I was interviewing for jobs I was finding online, and applied for one with a local coffee company, yet I NEVER drank coffee. Ever. After jumping through the hoops and series of interviews, I got the job. AND, much to my surprise, a trip to Guatemala. As the head marketing writer for the company they felt it was important that I go on an origin trip to connect with coffee farmers, the local culture and see how the coffee was grown and harvested. When I first applied for the job I had NO idea that a trip out of the country was even a possibility, so it was an even more awesome surprise!

And there is something else you may not realize; running through a pre-planned playbook also puts a lot of pressure on yourself and the people around you to mirror the expectations in your mind and heart. To complicate matters, this “master plan” is often an internal playbook that is not expressed outwardly to others in your life very clearly or effectively, which causes friction when people wonder why you are exhibiting any number of behaviors that surprise them. In turn, you are baffled and frustrated because you have no idea how they could NOT know what to do, say or anticipate from you, and why they aren’t following your “directions.”

Wander Around and Smell the Flowers Once and a While, Sheesh!

Life is not always to be understood, but experienced to help you reach a more full, rich understanding of yourself. Whatever your belief system, spiritual, religious or none at all, we can all agree on one thing — there is no joy in boredom. It’s why so many people feel disconnected, dissatisfied, disillusioned and desperate. So don’t direct your life so much that all you see are steps and goals all along the railroad track, instead of joys, love and the fun detours that really make us who we are in every way.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to be grateful for where you are in every moment, express that gratitude openly with yourself and the people around you, and then leave an open heart for the rest. Your passions will be there and guide you to the right choices. What you dislike will be obvious and fall away, even if not easily at first. It takes daily practice! But there will be a lot more room for cool things with all of those clunky expectations out of the way.

So now it’s time for you to spill! Tell me where you are stuck or attached to a specific direction and how it’s affecting your life right now. I would be happy to provide some insight that might help shed light on how to reframe your thinking.