Every time I try to write this post, my brain pulls my hands in slightly different directions. I have so much to say, and yet, I have no idea how to start. So I’m going to begin at the end. The moral of this story is clear: seeking the ‘right’ path is not productive. Because every path is a step forward, and the ‘right path’ will change as you do.
There is no “backwards step.”
Many people seek me out because they feel lost, they can see a destination but not the path, or they struggle with picking “a direction.” They are stood in the middle of an island without any idea which way to take a step. They’re lacking direction, even if they know exactly what they want.
I always recommend some kind of pausing, reflection and ‘taking stock’ as it were before making a move. At least for my map-making craft, we need to have identified something about the destination (a value/feeling/landmark/event), what is holding them back from making progress, and an understanding of where they’ve already been.
For example, imagine two hikers travelling, who both meet the edge of a cliff.
Someone staring up at a cliff and wanting to get on top of it will require different skills, equipment and route to someone at the top of a cliff wanting to drop down to the beach below.
And if either of those people are being chased by angry weasels; it’s even more important to plan out a safe route, and to keep an eye on the fears chasing them.
One of the most common fears I work with in this direction issue is the fear of “wasting time” or “making the wrong choice.” At its strongest, is the fear of having held on to this project or dream for so long they don’t want to let it go (all that carrying for nothing), or desperately don’t want to ‘back-track’ and feel they are starting back at level 1.
Have you ever played Snakes and Ladders where there’s a snake from space 97 to space 11? Yeah. Let’s just say I don’t like that game.
We all want to feel a sense of progress when we make a move.
Yet, every step is a step forward. Each step brings us new knowledge, experiences, a slightly different situation and more evidence for our inner scientist to learn about the next opportunity.
As my old Buddhist teacher would say “it’s all practise.” Every moment in life is practise for future life moments.
And we like the idea of linear travel. It gives us the strongest sense of progression. But if there’s a cliff ahead and we don’t want to get to the top, why wouldn’t we walk around it? Sometimes you reach the end of the road you’re on, or the road turns into something that no longer aligns with your values and desires.
This is why reviewing our aims is so useful: the more we check in “is this path still right?” the earlier we can turn if it’s not what we want. We can shift our direction, our destination. This wilderness is all here for our exploration.