long road surrounded by a large field

One luxury of flying an airplane is you travel straight to your destination. Barring an obstacle along the route, like restricted airspace or an ornery weather system, you can take the shortest distance between two points—a straight line—to get there fast.

Life on the ground is more problematic, both for travel by car as well as the journey to reach a dream. Rarely is there ever an easy, straight route between two points. However, most experienced drivers wouldn’t question their abilities to get from New York City to Los Angeles by car, even if they’d never made the trip before. They’d consult a map, plan the route, then set out.

So why do many of us question our abilities to reach our dreams? Granted, there isn’t necessarily a roadmap that shows us how to get there, but most of us have a general sense of what we must do, what path we should take to achieve the dream. But that can be a problem. We not only become so fixated on the path we think we should take that we can’t see anything else, including alternate routes when an obstacle blocks us, but we also slow down or even stop because we can’t envision every turn, every fork-in-the-road choice in our head, even if that choice won’t be made until much later.

If I plopped a U.S. map in front of you that had five wildly varied routes highlighted from New York City to Los Angeles, and I only asked, “Which route will get you to your destination?” what would your answer be? Why…all of them, of course. The travel time may vary significantly, and each path holds a different adventure, complete with its own, distinctive scenery, but each route will ultimately lead you to your destination. That is, if you don’t pull over and sit on the side of the road.

But that’s what many people do in the pursuit of their dreams and goals. They pull over, wheels on the curb of life, sitting on the hood of their ambition because they don’t know every turn they must make ahead of time. The gaps or uncertainties in the mental roadmaps to their dreams incapacitate them.

Take our road trip from N.Y.C. to L.A. Suppose we choose the scenic route, avoiding the interstates. Even if we consult a map before starting, can we remember every detail of the vast journey in our head as we drive? No, but we keep moving anyway. Do we pull off the highway and stop every time we’re unsure if we turn left or right 20 miles down the road? No, we keep moving. If the map flies out the window, or the GPS dies, do we pull over and wait for the AAA calvary to bring replacements? No, we keep moving, confident that signs along the way will let us know where to turn until we can take a rest stop and acquire a new map.

Then why do so many try to analyze every turn, mentally debate each potential fork choice before ever starting to move in earnest toward their dreams? Often, it’s because they want to reach their destination as quickly as possible, so they attempt to plan the most direct route. The irony is, they often do nothing because the unknowns overwhelm them. We must recognize this truth: there are multiple routes to reach our dreams and it’s more important to start and keep moving than to know ahead of time the exact path we’ll use to get there.

There’s an old joke with the punch-line, “You can’t get there from here.” It’s usually said as a quip for a route that is difficult. But the reality is, you CAN get there from here, if you keep moving. For those who’d like a semblance of a road map, feel free to jot the following down and carry in your pocket:

1) Hold the end destination in mind

2) Start and keep moving toward it

3) Trust that signs will appear when you need them

4) Realize there are infinite routes to your destination

5) Worry about the details when you get to them, not a moment before

6) Savor the scenery and friends you make along the way

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