Chapter 1 – Joy in the Journey
The more I stepped away from darkness, the less it felt like home.― Mitali Meelan, Coffee and Ordinary Life
We are preparing to leave home. For some of us, home is an ark of safety; for others, it can be a darkness of terror. In either case, it means leaving the familiar for something we do not yet see, cannot yet know, and will certainly not turn out as we might expect. When in the planning stages of a journey, which is more of a departure, it is not as simple as waking up, going to the airport, boarding just any flight, and poof, you are in a wonderful new destination. That is not going to happen. You can leave home and even go to the airport. But without tickets or identification, you ain’t goin’ nowhere. Before your departure, there are many questions to ask, plans to think about, and actions to complete if you want to end up anywhere near your destination.
This is the journey of a lifetime, and it is well worth the expense and risk. Many years ago, my mom and dad had the opportunity to travel to Africa with their lifelong friends and go on a safari. Dad and Mom grew up during the Depression, which defined their ideas about money and risk. In their retirement years, they were not rich but were doing ok. When my brother and I visited them one day, I asked when they were taking their Safari Adventure. Mom was the more talkative person of the two.
“Oh, I’m not sure we are going to go,” she stated matter-of-factly.
My brother and I were stunned. “What? Why wouldn’t you go?” I knew Dad was really looking forward to this. I couldn’t figure out their thinking until she stunned me again.
“We don’t want to spend that amount of money when we could pass it on to you both,” she replied.
My brother and I began to highly object, even offering to help fund their adventure. Ultimately, Mom and Dad did go, and it was the trip of a lifetime.
Let’s start by considering where we want to end up, our target destination. As we plan and travel, we will encounter roadblocks, diversions, and changes in our possible objectives.
The point is that any time we want to leave where we are and take a journey to a place we are not, it takes an accounting of where we are, whether we can afford this, and whether we want to risk it.
For example, one of my clients is in his mid-fifties and has four young children. Based on circumstances, his decisions and planning for the coming ten to fifteen years may be much different than someone whose children are married. It depends on perspective, planning, risk assessment, and desire (or dreams). It is similar to a five or ten-year business plan.
Planning Your Destination
This is the planning stage and is just an overview of what I have learned over the years. The first decision is to know if you want to float through life with no particular purpose or to be intentional and make the most of it.
My grandpa lived until he was ninety-six years old and had several different careers during his lifetime. He owned a gas station/restaurant, a lakeside resort, and a construction company where he was able to name several streets after his daughters. In his later years, he had a ranch, raised cattle, bred German Shepherd dogs, managed to fall off the roof of his house during a repair at age 92, and had a tractor roll over on him while brush-hogging when he was 94. During his years, he didn’t have a focused purpose; he just jumped in the river and let it take him where it would. He would climb out at various junctures, try something new, and then jump back in.
Flowing with the river is fine if that is what you want. Grandpa lived a full life and probably enjoyed what he was doing at every turn. He was lucky because he didn’t like other people telling him what to do and could own his business and be the boss. That is not the usual case for people. For most folks, it is best to think about your hopes and dreams, determine if it is possible to bring something into reality, and plan your journey.
The most essential part of fulfilling your dream is Focus. It is good to have an active imagination and many hopes and dreams. The reality is that you can only fulfill a few hopes and dreams and perhaps only one.
If you are young, you could become a medical doctor or lawyer, work towards a CEO position, or own a company. You may even have time to become a lawyer and switch to a medical profession. The older you become, the more focus is necessary on one objective vs. many because you are running out of time. A good friend likes to say, “The older I become, the less runway I have to take off and do what I want.”
To plan and arrive at your destination in life, there are three things to map out. Your Purpose in Life, the objectives used to meet your purpose, and the goals you can carry out on a daily/weekly basis to fulfill your objectives. Let’s take each in turn.
Purpose In Life
Purpose in Life is your destination in life overall and daily. Ultimately, when it is time for you to pass on, what would you like to be known for? Here is an interesting question:
“What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?”
Most people I work with spend excessive time away from their family, whether work-related or play-related. Yet, when asked what they would like their family or other people to remember them for at their funeral, no one ever says, “Oh, Mary was the best worker,” or “Joe was the best player.” No. Instead, we want to hear things like, “They were the best friend, mother, father, husband, or wife.” “They had a big heart to help other people.”
Your purpose in life is not only an end goal on your life’s journey. It is also a daily love affair. In my early days, before computers were household items, I liked to bake bread, cakes, and things that satisfied the tummy. After I finished my time in the Army, jobs were scarce, yet I was able to find a French pastry chef who was looking for help. It didn’t pay much, but I enjoyed going to work and did it for over twenty years. During that time, computers came into vogue and affordability, and I found that I loved to program and play with them. After twenty years as a baker, I was able to transition careers into computing.
It wasn’t until I began to be promoted into leadership positions that I realized my purpose in life was not playing with servers, data storage, and networks. Looking back on my life and experience, I always encouraged people I knew to further their business and personal success. It took a very long time for me to understand the principles I have outlined in this book and map out my purpose in life. You can do it wherever you are in life right now, which is exciting! I will coach anyone in any phase of life, but sharing these principles with a young person who still has possibly many years to refine and mine their precious time is a special joy. In the next chapter, there is more detail about discovering your life’s purpose.
Objectives are the longer-term milestones that keep us on track. When piloting an aircraft, the pilot uses waypoints to navigate to their destination. We can think of those waypoints as objectives that keep us on course. An objective might take several months or years to achieve but is usually more than a week or month. The shorter-term items are reserved for goals. In chapter 3, we discuss objectives in detail.
Goals are where the real work takes place. While objectives help us track our progress, goals are used daily and weekly and contain the tasks we do to reach an objective. There is an art to living life and enjoying the journey. I have met so many people waiting for a change in their lives, thinking they will be happy, rest, or enjoy themselves when they ________________________ [fill in the blank], only to have their lives cut short by health or other issues.
The time to enjoy your journey is NOW! It does not have to depend on your actions, who you are with, or your life’s circumstances.
More talk about goals in chapter 3.
- Although your purpose in life lasts a lifetime, it is a daily exercise.
- Purposeful intentionality leads to accomplishing goals and completing objectives to fulfill our ultimate purpose.
- You can find Joy in your journey every day… if you want to.
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Authored by H Mark Taylor – An Independent Certified Coach, Teacher, Trainer, and Speaker with Maxwell Leadership Certified Team
Copyright © 2023 H Mark Taylor. All rights reserved.