I’ve often considered downgrading from my smartphone to something simpler and cheaper. I just don’t need a handheld computer with me most of the time.
Except for, you know, whenever I’m going somewhere. To be honest, I’m just not sure I could part ways with the “Maps” app on my phone. I am, admittedly, completely dependent on this navigational crutch. I’d probably try to use it to get from my bedroom to the kitchen if ever I lost my way on that well worn path. What’s interesting about my usage of this technological “gift that keeps on giving” is that I almost always use only the screen that lists out the step-by-step directions. Viewing the actual map can become a bit much for me. The map reveals so many options (sometimes as many as three!). I don’t want to see the different streets and various routes; just give me the skinny on how to get to my destination as quickly and painlessly as possible!
All of this came to mind as I entered the final week of my mini-sabbatical. After having focused on reflection, rest and celebration throughout the three previous weeks, I wanted to devote my last week to looking ahead at the month and year to come. Don’t I sound so organized and prepared!?
Well it wasn’t long before I found myself making a list of goals for the future; step-by-step directions for myself, if you will (not unlike the list of plans I made for this sabbatical time), primarily focused on my desired destination. This is an interesting habit of mine, considering that in my thirty years, nearly none of the plans I made for my life have worked out accordingly (which, in retrospect, is usually a good thing). I am coming to realize that if I want to plan ahead, I need to look at my future as a map filled with several options, rather than a strict list of specific directions.
It’s no secret that I’m an avid list-maker. But how do I “look ahead” without making a plan IN THE FORM OF A LIST? This is the dramatic question I continued to bump up against throughout the week.
I’m no mapmaker, but the move away from creating a distinct itemization of goals and tasks towards a more open and imaginative approach to my future felt essential. Why? Because sometimes accidents happen, detours are necessary and the scenic route is more worthwhile. There is nothing wrong with having a plan, but if your plan is drawn on a “map,” it becomes much easier to allow for those plans to change and other options to be made visible. (Another non-secret: plans often change!)
So, I wrote some goals on a sheet of paper and, along with them, tried to dream up a number of ways that I could arrive at each one. Of course, I have a desired course towards each goal, but if I only focus on that specific path, how limited am I?
It’s too soon to tell whether or not this new posturing towards “mapped-out goals” will be helpful, but I think the experiment is a good one for me. I believe it is wise to look ahead, but I’m prone to looking through a pretty narrow viewfinder. This way, I can see the general direction I’d like to travel, but I can also see the many ways I could take to get there.
It has been a gift to receive this mini-sabbatical, made all the more sweeter by having the opportunity to share my reflections with you. Good people, bless you on your journey. May your map be filled with many stops for reflection, rest, celebration and anticipation.
First, if you haven’t put any goals in place for this year, why not start by naming one or two (or five or six!)? Once you have some goals in mind, consider how you can expand your view of how to approach them. What would it look like for you to map out your goals, dreaming up various routes you could take towards them, while also leaving room for alternate options that haven’t yet revealed themselves? Dream big and get creative; your “destination” matters, but so does the journey you take to get there!