You cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward. [emphasis mine] — Sonia Sotomayor
Here I am, again.
I know this place well. It is between the end and beginning. The path I had followed slowly disappeared into the thick forest. I pause and look around to see a sign for a new pathway.
I don’t see any.
The sense of loss grabs my heart and doesn’t let it go. I sit down on the ground cross-legged and stay with uncertainty. I feel alone, vulnerable, and weak. I don’t know where to go, my inner voice whimpers.
But somewhere deep inside me, I know I will find a way.
So, I rest on the ground until I’m ready to get up. I look around again and this time see some openings between the trees. I realize I could follow any of them to arrive at a place of light.
A path is what we create.
Life sometimes pushes us into the deep woods where we can’t see which way to go. The GPS doesn’t work, and no guide shows up to give us a direction. We are the only ones who lay a new path.
How can we start the path-building work then?
When we get lost between a closed chapter of life and a new one, we can use goal-setting to get unstuck. Goal-setting during transition has only one purpose: to move forward in whichever direction it might be.
Because of so much uncertainty in the situation, any major goal will most likely end up unachieved. After walking toward a goal, we may realize it is not really what we want and need to tweak, drastically change, or abandon it.
Goal-setting gets us out of inertia and creates momentum toward the future. We start living our lives instead of letting life pass by us. We are again active participants in the world. We take ownership of our journeys.
So, if you are feeling lost in transition, here is what you can do to move forward:
It’s OK to get lost We live in a society where getting off the track is a sign of failure or danger. The GPS guides us so we don’t get lost, and public park signs warn hikers to stay on designated trails. But the confusing and uncomfortable transition stage is we all must pass between the ending and beginning of life chapters. Getting lost is part of learning and growth, a jump board for the future.
The fastest route from point A to B may be a straight line, but nothing is straight in nature. Look around and notice everything in nature follows curved, crooked, or bent lines. See the roots of a tree disappear into the ground and surface above again. It’s okay not to follow a straight line. It’s natural to lose and find our ways.
Pause and rest Being lost gives us the time and opportunity to pause and take a rest. The more rested you are, the more energy and clarity you will have to assess your current situation and find a new direction. Many of us are conditioned to stay busy and don’t know how to shift from doing to just being. When you can’t tell where to go from there, see it as permission to take a break: sit still, listen to the wind, take a deep breath, and relax. What excites you?
Once you feel rested and more energized, begin exploring your potential goals. Start with thinking about what could bring you more joy, excitement, confidence, or a sense of achievement. lt doesn’t have to be a serious matter. Do you like to dance? Check. Do you want to make new friends? Check. Does traveling excites you? Check. Be playful and enjoy your exploration.
Start small It’s overwhelming to think about something big when you are lost. Begin with easy, accessible activities. If taking a dance class feels intimidating, you could begin by watching dance videos. Instead of attending local Meetups, joining Facebook groups may be a better alternative. Before checking out airfare for Europe, read travel blogs on your tablet. Think about a small change that makes you smile. The succession of minor changes will lead to a new path.
Set a goal Did you come up with what excites you? Good. It’s time for goal setting! Starting small is the key to success here too. Your goal could be watching a dance video daily, joining a Facebook group and connecting with three members, or reading a travel guide. Setting a small goal raises the odds of achieving it. An accomplishment — however trivial it is — will boost your confidence and give you the power to get out of stagnation and walk toward the future.
Do your best If you set a goal (small or big), you must make your best effort. Focus on it and commit to it. Goal-hopping without any dedication will weaken your power for manifestation. It’s better not to set a goal if you can’t commit to it.
As I stated earlier, any major goals set during a transition will likely require modification or complete change. That’s why you need to make small goals and do your best.
Be ready for change What happens if you find your small goal doesn’t align with what you want in your life anymore? That’s fine. In this transition stage, you are warming up and scoping out possibilities. Nothing is definite, and change is only constant.
Achieve your current small goal first, then move on to set a next minor goal that better matches your changing needs and wants.
In this way, you are still cultivating your will and persistence while exploring new possibilities. If you keep setting a mini goal and abandoning it, feelings of failure and entrapment will grow.
Enjoy your journey Being lost is standing in a place with possibilities.
It is where you learn a lot about yourself, find exciting things, and meet new people. A chain of discoveries will lead your way out of the woods. Enjoy your path-building process and rejoice in more resilient, resourceful, and empowered YOU!