Monday, June 20, 2011

Alternative Paths

"When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 14 Assignment: Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

Sure, just when I'm thinking I've got this "FOCUS" thing down, that I really understand it, Jonathan Fields throws, me a curve ball.  Vision, goals and focus are bad things???

Okay, I get that we need to be open to change. After all, change is the only constant. And yes, I have changed course n my way to a goal when I have decided it no long "fits" with who I am and who, where and what I want to be. But, I also think that this can easily be used as a cop out for the lazy. If you get tired of going for the gold, its easy enough to say, "You know, I've change my mind. That's not what I really want after all." 

Sometimes that can be laziness talking. Sometimes it can be fear. The challenge then becomes knowing how to tell the difference.

Lets face it, sometimes we do change. If you have a goal that is very connected to another person and then that person leaves, the goal will most likely lose its importance. In that case, it's perfectly acceptable to move on to another dream, vision or goal.

As Christians, one of the best ways to determine if we should stay focused on our present goals or move on is to pray and meditate and then listen. Sometimes we will argue with that still, small voice because we think we know what's best. But, if we are open and willing, God will always direct us in the way we should go.

We have to be honest with ourselves. We sometimes take on goals that are not truly our own. It's usually difficult to keep your drive up over the long haul for someone else's goal for you.

Sales managers know this. They don't set goals for their team members. Each salesman sets his own goals. When their goals are dictated, they are rarely reached. But, if a saleswoman sets her own goals, then that means something to her. Those goals will usually be reached or exceeded because they have meaning.

I think that most of the goals we grow out of were never really our goals in the first place. Oh, we claimed them... sort of. We went for them... at least to a certain extent. But, we never really owned them.

Do I think we can ever legitimately grow out of goals and change our focus on a different vision? You bet! In fact, that's a normal part of growing up.

When I was a lot younger, I wanted to go into the entertainment field. I actually got a couple of modeling gigs, and did a couple of bit parts in some B movies and TV shows. Probably my favorite claim to fame was being the femme fatale for the back story one weekend of the Creature Features Saturday night movie in San Francisco in 1979 or 1980 hosted by John Stanley.

I even moved to Southern California to pursue my dream career. Then I got a job, got married, and my goals changed. Would I want to be in Hollywood now? Not on your life!  I much prefer my quiet acreage in rural Arkansas watching my goofy dogs chase the deer from one end of my property to the other. They'll never catch them, but don't tell them I said so.

The fact is, I'm a completely different person now from who I was then. Hollywood would have chewed me up and spit me out, as it has so many others. Just today another young star burned out, probably from drinking under the influence.

Paul talked about goals and visions changing. He put it this way:

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

So, I think I'm still okay with the focus thing. I feel that my ambition is focused enough to not take every new path I come across, but not blind to possible alternatives.

#Trust30 Day Fourteen

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