Think about these questions: Be honest with yourself as you answer them.
1. Do you desire to grow closer to Christ?
2. Do you want to spend more time with your family and friends?
3. Do you want to be in better physical shape?
4. Do you want to be in better financial shape?
Most of us would answer yes to most, if not all, of these questions. The question is how are you going to do it? How are you going to get from where you are right now to where you want to be in these areas? The truth is everyone winds up somewhere. No matter where you go in life, you will end up somewhere, but where you end up is often far from where you hoped. One time I was driving in a car with another man and we got completely lost. I looked at him and said “Do you have any idea where we are going?” He replied: “Nope, but we’re making good time.” Unfortunately, this is how many people approach their goals in life.
Most people are really good at setting goals but really bad at actually achieving them because we get sidetracked and busy and life happens. Six months later we wind up somewhere but usually not where we want to be because we didn’t take the necessary steps to make the changes stick. We wind up drifting day after day in a sea of busyness, or we quit trying to reach our goals altogether. So my question to you is: Are you going anywhere intentionally?
This summer Kathi, Katie, and myself traveled to Wyoming to spend some time at a friend’s house. Before we left the driveway I put the destination address in Google Maps and it calculated a route for me. Seventeen hours later we arrived at our destination. If we would not have had a map and a plan, it would have taken much longer. In life, the same principles apply. Regardless of where you are now, if you want to get to where you want to be, you need a road map.
In life, a road map is akin to a game plan—a carefully thought-out strategy for reaching your goals. My road map probably doesn’t look exactly like yours, because my goals are different than yours. The reality that we might be following slightly different road maps doesn’t negate the wisdom of using one in the first place. One wise person once said “If you aim at nothing, you are likely to hit it every time.”
Regardless of where you are now, you need a road map to get you to where you want to be. Here are a few tips to help you do this.
1. Know where you are right now. How can you know where you are right now? It is called “reflection”. One of my goals this past year was to spend more time with my family. So in the spring I sat down and reflected on our family time last year. Google calendar makes it really easy to do this. I also took an honest assessment of our finances, my relationship with God, and the amount of time I spent with friends.
2. Know where you want to go. Once I took a realistic look at where we were as a family and where I was as a man, I set out to determine where I wanted to be. Kathi and I sat down and planned several family days and a couple trips. Several years ago I would have let my work at church take priority, but this year I scheduled more family time because they are a higher priority. We also set financial goals and I set relational goals. I didn’t write them all down, but I do know what they are in my head. You might benefit from writing them down if you need “to do” lists to keep you on track. I want my life to benefit others. I want to be the best pastor, leader, husband, friend, and father I can be. My goals and my calendar should reflect this. Our family didn’t spend as much time together as we wanted to because, well, life happened. But it was more time than the last year because we mapped it out.
3. Understand that life happens between where you are right now and where you want to be. Some people are infected with “destination disease.” They live their life thinking that they will be happy only if they reach their goals. They think, “When I get married, then I will be happy” or “When my kids graduate from high school…” or “When I finally have money in the bank...”. They get so focused on the future that they can’t enjoy the present. I am all about planning for the days ahead, but if you base all your hopes and dreams on the then and there, you will miss the here and now. The essence of life is enjoyed in real time all the time, so enjoy the scenery and the stops along the way. I am learning to enjoy family dinners, car trips, and even watching T.V. together more.
4. Don’t be afraid to take an alternate route. While traveling to Wyoming, we encountered several areas of road construction. We could have sat in traffic for hours or even waited months for the road to reopen, but we chose to travel alternate routes. Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Rather than pouting about it, don’t be afraid to head in a new direction even if it’s unfamiliar. You are still headed toward your goal, but it just might take a little longer to get there.
When it comes to traveling through life, I can’t stress the importance of following the roadmap enough. Remember, even the best travelers stop and ask for directions from time to time. In the journey of life, people who refuse to stop and ask for directions aren’t just stubborn or persistent; they’re foolish. Taking the time to stop and ask for directions might seem like a big hassle when you're busy and behind with the daily stuff of life, but it will help you get to where you want to be.
From one traveler to another, I encourage you to stick to your road map or you just might end up passing time driving in circles. The older I get, the more I am learning to enjoy the journey and all that takes place on the way.