A few days ago I was driving to a store to which I had never been before located in a different city. I wasn’t very familiar with the area where it was located so I plugged the address into my GPS, turned up the speaker volume and prepared to be navigated to my destination.
I was following directions as they were spoken to me and driving right along when I went into one of those autopilot moments and didn’t realize that my turn was coming up in less than 100 feet.
Unfortunately I was driving in the middle lane and there were cars on the lane next to me so there was no way I was going to be able to make my turn. I had no choice but to continue driving straight. Needless to say, I was frustrated.
I started beating on myself for getting distracted. I should have been paying attention to the directions, what was I thinking? If only I had been paying attention this would not have happened. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
In the meantime, my GPS went about its job and in a few seconds I heard it say, “Re-routing;” a few seconds later it said in its usual calm and matter-of-fact tone, “In 500 feet make a legal u-turn”.
I finally made it to my destination with no further incident (I was focused on the directions this time), but on my way back I had time to think about what had transpired earlier. It occurred to me that while I was sitting in my car frustrated and beating on myself for not paying attention to the directions, my GPS simply re-calculated the route and continued guiding me towards my destination.
I then started thinking of how often this happens to us in everyday life, and how often we get distracted and stop listening to our internal GPS. We all have one, you know. And if we know how to use it, it can help us get to our destination using the shortest route possible. It can re-route us if we missed our turn or had to take a detour for whatever reason, and it can set us back on course.
But like an electronic GPS, we must make use of it in order for it to work. Here are a few suggestions I thought of on how we can make the best use of our internal GPS. I will compare each suggestion to an electronic GPS for illustration purposes:
We must use it
I’m sure you would agree that it would make no sense whatsoever to have a GPS in the car but not turn it on and not plug in the address, but expect it to direct us to our destination. That would be illogical, wouldn’t it? We know that in order for the electronic GPS to guide us to where we want to go we must turn it on and plug in the address of our destination.
So it is with our internal GPS. We must decide what we want to accomplish in life, what goals we want to achieve, what dreams we want to fulfill, and set them as our destination by thinking about them often and visualizing the end result, so that they become plugged into our internal GPS.
We must be clear
What would happen if instead of plugging in an exact address into our electronic GPS we entered a “general location?” The GPS would still do its job of guiding us towards the general location, but it would not know how to get us to the exact place where we want to go, because it has no clarity.
Similarly, when we are unclear about where we want to go with our lives, or what specific goals we want to accomplish, our internal GPS will fail to guide us towards them. It is not enough to have “a general idea” of where we want to go. We must be clear about our goals so that our internal GPS can do its job of guiding us directly to them and not just in their general direction.
We must listen to it
The electronic GPS will do its job of guiding us towards our destination following the shortest route. But this will not do us any good if we decide to do whatever we want to do anyways. If the GPS says to turn right but instead we turn left, we may never get to our destination. Or we may get there eventually, but it will take us longer. For as long as the address is plugged in and the GPS is on, it will continue to try to re-route us to get us back on course using the shortest route, but if we don’t pay any attention to it and do what it’s telling us to do, it won’t do us any good.
Our internal GPS works the same way. It is always on, but the trouble is we are not always listening to it. We become distracted by our daily chores, or we just decide to do the opposite of what our internal GPS is telling us. This will only cause unnecessary delays or keep us from reaching our goals altogether.
We must not panic
Imagine that as we are driving to our destination we missed our turn like I did that day, and since we missed our turn we blame and curse the GPS, and turn it off (yeah, that’ll teach it!). I’m sure we can all agree that this is not the right thing to do. We must remember that our GPS will kick right in and re-route us to get us back on course, so there is no need to panic.
Similarly, if we end up getting off course from our goals for whatever reason we must not blame our internal GPS and we must certainly not stop listening to it! We must remember that it has the ability to re-route us and get back on track towards our goals. That is the time to shut off all distractions and tune in to our internal GPS, paying close attention to it so that we can hear the “re-routing” cue.
Later on I will be talking more about our internal GPS, what it is and how we can use it, but for now see if you agree with my conclusion the next time you use your electronic one, and let me know what you think!