Sometimes You Need to Get Lost…
It’s pretty hard to get lost in today’s world of GPS on our phones. Regardless of where you want to go, if you type in an address you will get exact directions on how to get to the place you want to go.
It took me a long time to start using this feature. Up until three years ago, I still wrote down directions to wherever I was going (yes I am a bit of a caveman). And then if I had them wrong, and I was lost, of course I had to turn the radio down to figure out where I was going😊 Did you do that too? Turn the radio down when you were driving and not sure where you were going?
Anyway, getting lost in the practical sense of going to a physical destination isn’t where it’s beneficial to get lost from time to time…
The Two Places it’s VITAL to Get Lost
There are specifically two areas in life that we all need to spend time in the wilderness: The inside journey and the goal Journey.
Before we dive into these, I can imagine that these are two places that you would prefer NOT being lost. I agree that it is counterintuitive to consider that feeling lost is a positive thing.
But consider this: Can you possibly know what’s in front of you every step of the way? Can you know what all your obstacles will be? Can you know what outside forces and circumstances will present themselves? Can you know what you don’t know?
Every one of those things will present you with a measure of wilderness. Some greater than others. I once was lost in the wilderness of a Masters Degree Level Statistics homework problem….it took me 6 hours to get the answer to this one problem. Better than 6 days, and not nearly as attractive as 6 minutes! But this is the way it is with being in the wilderness on something. It’s really not even whether or not you will be in the wilderness…it’s WILL you keep going anyway?
Quickly on the Matter of Lost on the Way to Goals…
Embrace this. If you already knew how to successfully accomplish the thing, had no trepidation, no anxiety, no unanswered questions, no need for sacrifices, no level of risk…you have a goal that isn’t likely to do much for you.
BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, as written by Jim Collins in Good to Great) or even smaller stretch goals should have you scratching your head wondering how you will actually get there. There should be many times when you are wondering if you took a wrong turn, or if something you are doing isn’t working, or when you are stuck for a bit at an obstacle.
This is necessary because by definition, trying to achieve something you have yet to achieve is going to require you to do things you have not before done, or at levels you haven’t done. What does it mean when you feel a bit lost pursing a goal?
It means you have something to learn. It means you missed something. It means you something changed. It means the goal is WORTHWHILE. It means you are tired, scared, frustrated, something…
What it doesn’t mean is that you should give up. Unless…it’s no longer relevant because of a values shift or some outside scenario that renders the goal no longer useful in your bigger picture.
I’m very familiar with the goals wilderness experience as I have had it many times in my life….and will have it more moving forward.
The Harder One to Deal With is The Inner Wilderness…
At least with a goals-based issue, you can easily dissect the parts involved, study the plan and activities, and make adjustments or recalibrate your judgement on how things actually go as opposed to how you thought they would go.
The inner wilderness has little of this clarity of parts. It’s so steeped in emotion and lens perspective that it can feel like a black-hole sucking you down, not just slowing you down. Sometimes the inner feeling of being lost is directly connected to something you are pursuing, but in my experience, it typically isn’t…that is, unless you are doing something that goes against your beliefs and values, and it’s arising from the cognitive dissonance and subconscious trying to tell you to stop.
I am not afraid to admit that I have spent A LOT of time in this particular wilderness. I’ve had times in my life when I was crushing it in my goals, yet spending all of my other time trying to understand the lost feeling.
This aspect of lost can come from so many places…chemicals in your brain, hormones, level of fulfillment, expectations in relationships, self-opinion, loss of people in your life, the wrong influences in your life, and the list can go on.
This one has been incredibly valuable for me and will be for you too provided you lean into it. It starts with stepping out of your feelings and acknowledging that there is a difference between how you feel and how you ARE.
Then you can go to work at unpacking what the cause is. Sometimes it’s similar to the goals wilderness in that you just have something to learn from it. The development of the 3 Circles Platform came from one of these periods.
Other times, you have something to acknowledge. Grief is an example of this that I have been personally experiencing recently. Since life goes on, it’s easy to think that you can step back into life quickly after the loss of someone you love. You can from an activity standpoint, but you are going to have the underlying feeling for quite some time, and some measure of it for years.
Sometimes you will find that you are simply emotionally fatigued and it’s a time to be quiet.
The point of all this, is that if you will take the time to reflect during these periods, you will find answers now, and in the future you will find more answers as to what this period was doing for you. This is another reason to journal as it gives you an active way to process things out in the present and a way to pull out lessons in the future.
One thing I am certain of is that everyone who is trying to grow and improve in some facet of their life will have these periods with regularity. They cannot be avoided, and any measure taken to avoid will only prolong the difficulty and slow the learning.
I don’t expect you to be excited about the way the wilderness feels in the midst of it, but if you can keep the big picture in front of you and recognize it is part of your growth process, you can take solace in knowing that it’s a positive thing that will bear fruit as long as you keep going.
Here’s a snippet from a webinar that talks a bit about purposeful personal development, which is one of the best things you can do in general, and specifically during a wilderness period, and also there’s a very effective interpersonal communication nugget in it as well.
If you need some Coaching, or Training for your organization, reach out to me.
Many Blessings, Todd
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