It Doesn’t Matter How Fast You Get There, If You’re Headed In The Wrong Direction.
This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project
Week 24 and 25: It Doesn’t Matter How Fast You Get There…If You’re Headed In The Wrong Direction.
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast-you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
Life Lesson 24: It Doesn’t Matter How Fast You Get There…If You’re Headed In The Wrong Direction.
We’ve all done it. We’ve put ourselves on autopilot and headed in the direction of our dreams. Day in and day out, we work. We create lists, we’re ambitious, and we focus all of our attention on completing the tasks that will get us to our dreams. However, when we finally arrive at “our dreams”, we realize it isn’t a dream at all. We look back and ask, “What was I thinking?” Then we realize, we weren’t thinking at all. We were simply going.
One common example of this is the career-focused person who thinks they’ll be happy at the top of the company. They work like crazy for years. They sacrifice friends, family, and leisure time. They tell themselves things will be different and easier at the top and then they’ll have time for x, y, and z. But when they get to the top they realize the hours are still long, they’re disconnected from friends and family and they missed out far too many experiences to count. Reality sets in and they realize everything they lost along the way wasn’t worth the gain.
Granted, not everyone feels this way when they get to the top. And many people feel this way without ever getting to “The Top”; whatever place that may be for you. What’s important is that you’re headed in the right direction for you. YOU are the only one who can decide what direction is the right direction.
Don’t get caught up in the speed at which you accomplish your goals. Don’t get caught up in societies expectations of where you “should be” in life. Albeit, this is incredibly difficult in today’s world. Here’s an interested story on the topic:
After my brother graduated from college, he moved to China to teach English. With a degree in business marketing and dreams of being a millionaire, deciding to go to China was a bit of a shock to our family. He ended up staying for three years and came back a completely different person. He no longer dreamed of cash and accomplishments, but rather, happiness and enough money to allow him to live a simple life.
While in China, many people asked him about his decision to change course and move there. To many of the people there, his decision was a fine one. But my brother knew that back in America, with each milestone in life came expectations. The expectation after college was that he would enter into the workforce and remain there until retirement. His decision to go to China made him different and it made him the minority. He explained that in America, everything is a race, and stepping off the racetrack, (i.e. moving to China), meant he would be way behind when he returned to America.
I always found that analogy truthful. As someone who has also chosen to take the less than conventional path through her twenties, it resonated with me. You can read more about my journey after college HERE in my feature on the 20Somethings in 2013 blog. The main point is that even though I get ridiculed, and people question my “lack of ambition” (although, I would never label myself that way), I find it ironic that most of them are not happy or fulfilled with their work. Most of them say their life is on autopilot and boring. Most of them also have a lot of debt and no savings. They work 40-60 hours a week with little to show for it; not even their happiness. I on the other hand work half that have a lot of time to do things for pleasure, no debt, and considerably more saved than many of my friends. Yet, in today’s society, I “fell off the racetrack” a long time ago.
So, what’s the take away from this? It doesn’t matter how fast you get there, if you’re headed in the wrong direction. Don’t get fooled by societies expectations, or your mother’s expectations or your husbands, or your friends. Do what is right for you! Going in any other direction will ultimately send you in circles and leave you feeling unfulfilled. Remember, it doesn’t matter how fast you get from point “A” to point “B”. What matters is that your life has meaning and that you’re actually able to enjoy it along the way. There is no other moment than the moment you’re in right now.
Lesson 25: Take a Step Back. Slow it Down and Be Mindful.
Repeat after me: Life is not a race. Life is not a race. Life is NOT a race! You are not racing against anything real. Only society. What do you care more about, yourself or society? I hope you said yourself! Really, what is the point in letting other peoples’ expectations of what you should or shouldn’t do get to you? Will it help you? No. It will only leave you feeling inadequate, self-conscious, imperfect, unlikeable, and like a loser. There will always be someone who has accomplished more than you, or acquired more than you. However, unless you only value yourself and the quality of your life based on things rather than experiences, it doesn’t matter one bit.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have dreams or aspirations or that getting there wont take some sacrifices and hard work. In contrast, have dreams, have aspirations, and work hard, just don’t do it on autopilot.
When you do, you lose sight of everything else around you. You lose the experiences in life that make it count, -big and small. You might even go right past a shortcut; you might take the extra hard, long way around, or drop some irreplaceable things along the way and not realize it until it’s far too late.
“We are always getting ready to live but never living.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Slowing down not only helps you see the path more clearly, it also helps you make the right steps going forward and this will ultimately lead you to the best big picture. Think of a dance class. At the beginning of the class, no one knows any of the steps. They may not even know how to count to the music. If the teacher simply began dancing and expected the entire class to memorize her every move and executed it perfectly you would think she’s crazy. You would probably walk right out and never return again. That’s because you can’t get from point “A” to be “B” without some basic steps and understanding. And you can’t learn them fast. You need to slow down the music, slow down the steps, and only after you begin to feel comfortable can you try it again faster until you finally get it down correctly.
As a child, whenever I would practice the piano, I would try and play everything as fast as possible (of course, because it was more fun that way!). But without fail, every, single, time I did, my fingers would slip and I would make countless mistakes. Thankfully, I had a good teacher, who made me play everything extremely slow until I had the keys, and the rhythm down. Despite my stubbornness, I appreciate her forcing me to do so because the ability to play the piano well today is something I am incredibly grateful for.
Slowing down means being present more often. Life is meant to be experienced, not auto-piloted. Don’t wait until you begin to feel overwhelmed with life to take a step back, to slow down, and reevaluate your plans. Slow down so much that you can always see the big picture. Take some time to reevaluate and make sure you’re taking the right steps, in the right order, and that where you’re headed is the right place. What’s the point if you’re headed in the wrong direction right? Remember this quote:
Make that a mantra, and then reflect on these questions today, and weekly.
- What direction am I headed in?
- Why am I on this path?
- Where will this path lead me in one month, one year, five years, ten years?
- Is this what I want or what someone else wants of me?
- How will getting to the end of this road change my life? How will it make me happy? What happens if it doesn’t make me happy? Will it have been worth it?
- What sacrifices am I willing to make to accomplish my goals and dreams?
- What sacrifices am I not willing to make?
- What mistakes have I made in the past that may strike again?
- How can I remain true to myself during times of hard work and sacrifices?
- If everyone and everything important in my life was suddenly gone tomorrow, would I regret the path I’ve been on the focus I’ve put in?
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