“[You] don’t have to change your goal. Change your path, be willing to and don’t see that as a failure. That’s just life.” – Diane Hendricks
You have a goal or goals, perhaps even a tentative or somewhat fleshed-out plan for how to achieve your objective. Do you think there is only one way to get what you want in life? Are you obsessed with sticking to a path you’ve been on despite a change of circumstance, recently acquired knowledge or skill, even a new interest that’s in conflict with your chosen course of action?
If so, you might be stuck.
But you can get unstuck, too.
That is, if you want to.
Just as there are generally several routes to get to a single destination (think alternate routes calculated by Google or a GPS-enabled in-vehicle navigation or available on your smartphone), and different destinations that may prove more desirable along the way, the fact that you’ve embarked on one path toward your goal doesn’t mean that you are obliged to stick hard and fast to it.
Simply change the route. You can still get where you want to go — if you ultimately make the decision that the goal continues to be desirable and you want to go there.
Some might say that this is taking the effortless way out, arguing that continuing the path you’ve been on is a sign of commitment, determination, perseverance and wisdom. It may be in some instances, but it may also be an excuse. When you wind up at the other end of that path and it’s been nothing but pain and obstacles all the way through, what if you are unhappy and less satisfied with the entire journey and the result? You might also be more satisfied because of all the effort you put into achieving the goal.
Consider for a moment whether there could be another way to achieve your goals without giving up on them. How about taking an alternate path? Maybe it takes a little longer to arrive at a successful outcome, but isn’t it worth it? How much does the goal mean to you in the first place? If it’s a tertiary goal, perhaps you’re less motivated to pursue it. If it’s a goal that’s a critical step toward another end goal, you might be more inclined to figure out a viable pathway forward.
Granted, the thought of taking an abrupt change of course can seem jarring, to be sure. You must be willing to see this as an overall learning experience, not as a mistake that’s sign of failure. Nothing is lost when you gain insight and knowledge because of your actions. Even though one route you’ve taken turned out to be filled with delays and wrong turns, if you are still committed to your end goal and you’ve still got the motivation to continue, you’re even more likely to eventually succeed.
Potholes, traffic jams, inclement weather, missing signs, no gas stations or rest stops — these can add time and consequences to your route. So too can the boss changing direction, a supplier failing to deliver on time, other team members not performing, little or no support from colleagues, difficulties at home, health issues, financial pressures and a growing worry that you’ll not be able to complete your assignment or task.
Take heed of the advice to be observant of other paths you can take. There is always another choice, although it may not be the most apparent. You might need to search for it and this requires flexibility, vision and a willingness to go through the change process. And change is never easy. It often requires considerable courage and a strong conviction to tackle seemingly overwhelming odds or challenges.
It is often said that life is a journey, not a destination. Indeed, as Lao-Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Knowing you have a certain goal, make it a point to keep your options open and take advantage of the many different paths that appear before you. Sharpen your vision, eliminate distractions, learn to maintain your focus and train yourself to be adaptable, flexible and quick to react so that you can capitalize on promising opportunities.