Life is like a road trip.
When you plan a road trip you begin with your starting point, current location or your “you are here” location. You select your final destination and plot out the route that will get you there. That route is often the shortest, most entertaining and most fulfilling route. Most times it is the easiest and most convenient. The trip is planned so you load up the car, pack in the kids and hit the open road for the trip of a lifetime. Your destination is a place that you have always wanted to go. You are excited. Anxious. You have butterflies as you experience those “are we there yet” moments. You have been cruising along for about 30 minutes and things suddenly change. Your convenient, easy, exciting, magical, well-thought-out plan comes crashing down as you enter a major traffic jam.
Does this sound familiar?
This road trip is your life. The starting point is your current life and your destination is the life you have always wanted. You set goals, create plans, and make every preparation possible to progress towards the life you desire. Then, it all falls apart.
The road of life is hard to navigate and I guarantee that you will encounter things along the way that slow you down, stop you in tracks and make you think about turning around and going home. We cannot let that happen. We cannot become discouraged and be easily led astray from the goals we set. We must prepare ourselves for these obstacles in advance. Let’s take a look at a few of these things:
Backseat Drivers – Do you know these people? They are the ones that sit in the backseat and tell you how to drive and where to go. They question your decisions, groan and grumble about your choice in music, and complain that they are bored, too hot or tired. They aren’t willing to drive themselves, but they have an opinion about everything you do as the driver. Do you have these people in your life? Stupid question, I know. We all do. They are the ones who sit from afar and judge your career choices, relationships, and actions. They are the parents who constantly bitch at a youth sports coach, but aren’t willing to get involved and help out. Backseat drivers will ruin your road trip to the life you want if you let them.
Potholes – Large craters in the road that slow you down and ultimately keep you from your final destination if you hit them with your car. Negative people are potholes. Their constant “woe is me”, pessimistic, life sucks outlook will slow you down. I promise you that. And if engage directly with them, you will not reach your goals. You become who you hang out with. You become what you think about. If that is always negative, life will be negative.
Dead End Streets – You are going to make wrong turns and bad decisions. You are going to go down dead-end streets. Many of these streets are signed with “No Outlet”. Don’t buy into the sign. There is an outlet. There is always an outlet. You can simply turn around and go back the way that you came. Dead end streets are not traps and you are not forever defined by that decision or wrong turn.
Heavy Traffic – Everybody wants to experience success in life so there will be a lot of people on the road. You have to be able to navigate the traffic, use caution when changing lanes, and use your mirrors to see what is happening around you. You must stay aware and alert. You cannot become overwhelmed in the confusion of heavy traffic. Stay calm and stay the course. You are in control of your car, your life. Handle it accordingly.
Speed Bumps – Speed bumps are used to control your speed. They are a minor inconvenience. They are not mountains. You will encounter inconveniences in your life that are small, minor, and not important. Don’t treat them otherwise. Adjust your speed, go over them, and continue on. Don’t make small speed bump into something more than it is.
Roundabouts – Do you ever feel like you are just going around in circles? Are you on the never-ending roundabout? If you don’t stay focused on your plan, your route, you can get stuck in the hamster wheel. You spend endless amounts of time doing things that don’t matter. Things that do not align with your goals and final destination. Stay focused on your destination and you won’t get stuck driving around in circles.
Road Construction and Detours – If you have taken any type of road trip in the summer you have experienced road construction. Four lanes become two, two lanes become one. Orange barrels and concrete barricades decrease the size of your lane and you feel like you are going to scrape up the side of your car. You sit dormant, not moving, because the dump truck and slow-moving crane are in the way. You become impatient and get frustrated. Sometimes your road is completely closed and you have to take a detour that takes you 10 miles out of the way. The road of life is filled with construction and detours. Embrace it and know that it is going to happen. Sometimes the longer route is the best route.
Terrible Weather – Depending on where you live this may mean something different to you. In the midwest it means snow storms with slick and hazardous road conditions in the winter. Thunderstorms that drop so much rain that you cannot see (wipers probably suck too) where you are going and you have to slow down or pull of the road in the summer. The storms of life will make it hard to see your route and your plan. The storms of life will cause you to slip off the road and crash if you do not navigate with care.
Police Officers – People are watching your speed and how you drive. Like police officers, they hold you accountable for erratic behavior, impaired decisions and going too fast. They are following behind you and sitting waiting for you. Please know that we need police officers on our roads and you need “police officers” in your life that will keep you safely on the road to your final destination.
The life you want to live is possible if you learn to navigate the road correctly. The final destination may be your ultimate goal, but the journey along the road is the ultimate adventure. Drive safe my friends!