Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on pathfinding and uncovering the right direction for my life. Our recent article challenged you to answer the “tombstone question” to uncover the true legacy you want to leave behind when all is said and done.
Having a vision of your desired destination is a huge step in the right direction, but how will you get there?
My self-discovery process has led me to define the three essential ingredients of finding your path to belonging:
Ingredient A: Answering the “Tombstone Question,” Ingredient B: Defining Your Core Values, Ingredient C: Working on Your Performance and Process
Even though it might sound like a cliché, there’s so much truth in the old saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” That’s why it’s so important to ensure you are leveraging the right processes and continuously improving your performance along every step of the way; how else can you ensure you’re heading in the right direction?
Earlier in my career (and even life in general), I thought taking big swings in the hopes of making that big home run was better than consistently hitting singles every day that added up to the win. Now, I know it’s all about process– and aligning the daily systems and habits you have in place to launch you forward in the right direction.
ARE YOU AWARE OF THE DIRECTION YOU’RE HEADED IN?
Are you feeling dissatisfied with your current role, worried about the progress you’re making (or struggling to make), or generally feeling lost or unclear on what you’re aiming for professionally?
1. Monitor Your Steps so you Know the Direction, and can Prepare for the Distance Covered
The gap between your desired and actual destinations will only get exponentially wider as you continue on your journey, so it’s critical to ensure you’re navigating based on where you actually want to go.
Extend this concept further:
2. After Following That Same Direction for Dozens of Miles, You’ll Either Find Yourself Miles off Your Intended Course, or Right on Track.
If you feel like you’ve spent years and years with misaligned direction, and are impossibly off track, this metaphor offers hope in equal measure. You don’t have to keep trudging down the wrong path.
Even the smallest incremental changes can similarly bring you closer to your goals. This even applies to the most important ones that feel impossibly far out of your reach:
Adjusting your direction just one degree at a time will eventually make a compounded difference in your progression.
If you want to see these exponential results from making the right adjustments, you need to get your bearings as soon as possible. Ensure you’re on track every day with consistent level-setting. Keeping your goals written down and even sharing them with those around you to help keep you accountable can help you to make those adjustments.
5 QUESTIONS YOU CAN USE TO REORIENT YOUR PATH’S DIRECTION:
How will these intentional shifts help orient your path closer towards where you really want to go?
1. Think about which direction you are headed in right now
2. Is this where you want to go?
3. What “one-degree pivots” can you make right now that are simple and doable?
4. What differences will integrating these changes make 5 years from now?
5. What growth and progress will they yield 10 years out?
The key is always having your long-term goals in mind. When you set intentions years down the road, it’s easier to see your investment in daily progress add up over time like compound interest.
PLANT THE SEEDS OF GROWTH AND LAY AN UNSHAKEABLE FOUNDATION FOR YOUR FUTURE
It’s easy to look back and blame the path you’ve followed for how you got somewhere that hasn’t brought you meaning. It’s much harder to look at our own choices that led us there and take responsibility. This same sense of control over our own destiny, however, gives us the power to choose differently and better
Take the time to plant the seeds of growth. A full 180-degree pivot is impossible overnight, and will feel really overwhelming to try to tackle. Instead, think about shifting your path in terms of the skills, connections, education, and knowledge you can acquire to empower yourself along the way:
- Finding mentors
- Meeting people who can help you on your career path
- Taking time for reflection and self-discovery to get clear on your intentions
Pick the right bricks as early in life as you can, and you can pave a much smoother and sturdier path to sustainability. Build a durable foundation that will weather even the most brutal of storms.
GRIPPING THE MIDST OF THE UNKNOWN
The stark transition to adulthood and full self-reliance often jerks people “awake.” Suddenly, you’re in unknown territory. For many of us, this is the first time in our life when we get to pick your path with true freedom:
- City to live in
- Company and job to work for
- People we hang out with
- How to spend our free time
In the “real world” of the professional realm, the benchmarks and milestones we achieve become self-selected. Any job will include responsibilities and goals, but these achievements are for organizational, rather than personal, gain.
Within the scope of our employment, how can we create structure that enriches us, and define a sense of personal meaning, milestones, and progress? Fortunately, I have a detailed set of 10 actionable ways you can.
10 Steps to Align Your Trajectory Towards Growth
Here are the essential components to keep in mind as you chart your course forward and use incremental behavioral changes to facilitate continuous improvement and sustained growth.
1. Find a beacon inside of you to light the way, and stay true to its path
2. Identify what is bringing you fulfillment
3. Discard anything that’s draining your energy
4. Pay attention to “critical moments”
5. Seek out learning opportunities whenever you can
6. Find strengths to distill from talented members of your network
7. Challenge yourself intentionally by taking on projects or new work that to build skills you need for your ideal future career
8. Measure your progress in small, incremental steps
9. Always stay open to growth
10. Share your journey with others who will support, challenge and champion you.
What This Looks Like In Real Life:
These concepts might sound abstract, so I’d like to share some real-world examples with you that have proven impactful for people in my network. The Pathfinding Group on LinkedIn has been incredibly powerful to watch evolve, because so many of you articulate how the high-level concepts in our content play out in real life.