How bad is your sense of direction? For the longest time, mine was terrible. I lived in the same city for 25 years of my life and there were many places that I couldn’t find if my life depended on it. It’s comical to recall how many times I have been driving and had to ask someone in the car which way to turn as we navigated towards a destination we’d been to plenty of times. I figured I just didn’t have a knack for direction. Thank god for Google Maps (not so much Apple Maps).
What I failed to realize back then and what seems pretty clear now, is that it wasn’t my sense of direction that was the problem. It was two things: my sense of awareness and my lack of experience. Truth be told, although I lived in one city, I didn’t venture to certain areas and neighborhoods often enough to get a feel for how to get around. Even when I did spend time in those areas, I wasn’t making mental notes of each street name, store front or landmark that might help me make sense of it all. So my experience in these places was lacking and my awareness while driving was minimal. If I had taken those mental notes as I wandered aimlessly or made an attempt to explore those areas of the city more, I certainly would have been better off.
I would say my sense of direction started to take a shift when I moved to where I live now. I moved out here to be with my wonderful wife a few years back, and it took some time to know my way around. Every intersection was new, every expressway was foreign and all the side streets were mysteries to me. In reality, though, I had no choice but to suck it up and figure it out. As I ventured to work, I would observe certain landmarks or signs that would help pinpoint my journey. On the way back I would try out a new way home just to get a feel for more of the area. I absolutely got lost at times, but eventually, I found some checkpoint that I recognized and redirected course. Day by day, after plenty of trial and error, I started to feel good about navigating my way around.
After reflecting on this the other day, I realized that there is a pretty strong relationship or analogy between finding your way geographically and finding your way, your path, or your purpose in life.
When it came to geographical navigation, the only way I improved that sense of direction was to go out and try new routes and roads and see what worked. As I did that, I was keenly aware of what was around me so I could use those landmarks and fixtures to help put together the journey.
As we try to find our path or purpose in life we have to do the same: experience new things and be aware of what works and what doesn’t as we experiment. I didn’t just wake up one day and know how to get around town. Similarly, you won’t wake up tomorrow and be able to answer the question “What is my purpose?” without trying out some possibilities.
When you want to go somewhere in your city, you have a destination. You plug it into your GPS and it will tell you how to get there. In life, we need to create goals-our life’s destination-then find out for ourselves what path works most. Unfortunately, there is no Google Maps for your inner self or for finding your purpose. You’re going to have to go out and figure it out. It will seem hard at first, but as you try more things and experiment, you will find more clarity in the path you’re supposed to take.
Understand that it’s called “finding your purpose” or “discovering your passion” for a reason. It’s not coming to you anytime soon. You have to go out and do some serious trial and error if you ever want to find clarity in your navigation through this life. Do something today that might point you in the right direction.