“Not all those that wander are lost.”— J.R.R Tolkien
I was 17 and receiving an award at my childhood summer camp when I first heard the above J.R.R. Tolkien quote. I had attended camp every year since I was 5, climbing the ranks from camper to counselor. As that one summer came to a close, my friends were busy making plans for their first semester of college while I found myself tip-toeing around their dorm room discussions. I wasn’t planning on attending school; I had a strong feeling it wasn’t the path for me. However, I also wasn’t sure what the right path was. In an attempt to encourage me, the camp director (and personal family friend) presented me with the “Not all those who wander are lost” award. What an incredible gift that was! At that moment I felt as though I had been given permission to discover my own path, and for that, I will be forever grateful to her. With the support of my family and that quote, I have carved out my own path, every step of the way.
So how do I assure myself I’m on my right path? I pull over and assess my course. While there are few certainties when attempting something new, you can track your route. By determining where you want to go, how far you’ve come, and what it’s taken to get where you are at present, you can decide if you’re on the right path. For me, it’s all about checking in and making agreements between my heart and my head. Here are some of the “check-in” questions I ask myself when I’m feeling unsure. Remember to dig deep, be honest with yourself, and listen hard!
- Are you passionate about what you’re pursuing; how would you feel if you couldn’t pursue it?
- Do you feel energized and rewarded when you pass each milepost?
- Are you minimizing any potential regrets as you move forward?
- Do you feel confident enough to tell anyone and everyone about the path you’re on?
- What kind of an investment (time and or money) are you making and is it comparable to the payoff?
- What kind of results do you need to see in order to continue on this path?
- Do you have a timeline as to when you need to reach a particular destination?
- Can you do it on your own or do you need help?
- When do you call it quits; what’s your exit strategy?
I can’t say that every new idea is the right idea, but I do believe that each is worth exploring. The ability to forge unique paths in pursuit of my dreams. Don’t forget, you’re in the driver’s seat and the possibilities are endless! I hope that reading this and answering some of my go-to questions assist you in navigating your current path and journey to joy.