When I headed out the door as a teen my father would routinely ask, “Where are you going?” Often I had a straightforward answer and at other times I would answer, “I don’t know or out.”
This undefined destination most often would be met with some disapproval and his stock response, “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?”
Growing up I never seemed to have defined goals or direction. My parents worked fulltime and I was often left to my own devices. My sister was eight years older than me and our lives never seemed to be in sync with each other; she was in college while I was in junior high school and out of the house before I graduated high school. I wasn’t wild or very mischievous, just undirected.
The only goal my parents set for me was that I wouldn’t go to the vocational high school with a friend of mine; I would go to the regular high school and prepare for college. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I would study in college or do later. Needless to say my first attempt at college was a disaster which resulted in me leaving, losing my student-draft exemption and serving three years in the army.
After my stint in the army I began to formulate general goals and plans, but not very lofty. Go back to college, teach electronics (which I learned extensively in the army), marry and have a family. Slowly the generalized plan materialized and then rapidly changed. I did graduate college with a BA and later received an MA. My teaching career lasted only five years before I moved and entered the business world, which lasted fifteen years. Then I moved on to a religious non-profit organization for ten more. Then back to business. I was meandering through various careers. Intermixed with the working life, family and volunteer activities filled a lot of gaps and had its own satisfactions.
I guess I never knew my eventual destination. Yes, there were detours. But the journey has been interesting and mostly rewarding. Perhaps not knowing my destination made the trip an adventure, full of surprises and interesting people. I learned the most about business from my worst boss. What if I had a definite goal and failed or worse didn’t like it once I arrived? The next time you see a detour sign on the highway don’t get frustrated but rather look it at as a chance to get off the beaten path, out of the rut of life, as an opportunity to see your world from a different viewpoint.
Now my goals are less long range and more specific and immediate. Go to the club after work, formulate my weekend to-do list, consider the exercise class Sunday morning instead of a walk and talk to Iris about a weekend trip soon. And, of course, make time to write my blog and read. Shopping, laundry and cooking duties (which I actually enjoy) will be added as Iris continues to slowly recover. Not exciting but rewarding. I enjoy the Zen of just doing and not worrying about getting someplace specific.
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