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Listen Closely to Your GPS

“Not till we are lost . . . do we begin to find ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been doing some training on the road that has required a lot of driving. One week alone, I logged 885 miles on my rental car. Although I’d never used it before this project, the navigation system on my smartphone quickly became my new best friend. Even with clear instructions from “Navvie,” as I call the voice, I still managed to get lost at times. But Navvie is ever patient with me, simply saying in a sunny voice, “new route” every time I mess up. She never says, “I told you that twice already. What’s wrong with you?” She never raises her voice or insults me for making a mistake. I appreciate her for that, and I try to cooperate as much as possible.

We all have goals we want to achieve—places we see ourselves going in life. Sometimes getting there isn’t a straight shot. There are twists and turns along the way, and it’s easy to get confused and frustrated when we lose direction. Here are some lessons that Navvie taught me about navigating through life.

• You must know where you are and where you want to go. Though uncomfortable with this knowledge at first, I soon became grateful that “the system” always knew where I was at any time. Armed with that knowledge, the only thing I have to tell Navvie is where I am trying to go. In order to achieve our goals, we first have to be honest with ourselves about where we are right now. Then we must have a clear and specific view of where we want to end up. As Stephen Covey says, we have to “start with the end in mind” if we are to reach any of our goals.

• There is more than one way to get there. I noticed that when I put an address in the system, Navvie gives me a choice of three routes, with the mileage and estimated travel time for each. I get to choose which route is more appealing to me. I can choose the fastest, the most scenic, and so on. The good thing is that all the routes ultimately lead to my destination. There is always more than one way to arrive at our goals, so we should never get discouraged when our path is not exactly the same as someone else’s. Trust that you will eventually arrive at your destination.

• It is never too late to get back on track. Sometimes we get stuck in traffic. Other times we need to take a detour. Navvie taught me that it doesn’t matter if I get stalled or off track along the way. She doesn’t care how long it takes to arrive at our destination. She allows me to pick up right where I left off and keep going. There is no such thing as too late, too old, or too far off to get back on track with your goals. Persistence pays off, and it will always work out in the end if you just keep moving in the right direction.

• You might be closer than you think. One night, I drove around and around within a half-mile radius, looking for my hotel for at least 30 minutes. It was right there, but I couldn’t see it because, by design, it blended in seamlessly with all the other buildings. (Somehow I’d managed to find a hotel that was conveniently located right in the middle of a strip mall, but we won’t get into my shopping habits here.) Sometimes a goal might seem out of focus. We can’t see it clearly because of everything else going on around us that distracts us from where we are heading. If we refocus ourselves, we just might find that what we want has been right in front of us all along.

• Enjoy the journey. While I navigated through unfamiliar territory, I found many delightful distractions along the way. From historic sites to outlet malls, I took it all in. I got the opportunity to visit places that I wouldn’t have ordinarily seen. I’ve met (well, I’ve seen) Punxsutawney Phil, the supposedly 124-year-old groundhog who predicts the weather each February. I’ve visited the Mississippi River town where Mark Twain grew up and based his classic tales. I’ve snapped breathtaking pictures of Yosemite National Park. The list goes on . . . It’s important to appreciate where we are on the way to where we’re going, even in those moments when we feel “lost.” Take some time to stop and smell the roses. It makes the journey more enjoyable, and, before you know it, you will have arrived at your destination.

If your current path isn’t taking you where you want to go, it isn’t too late to change direction. Don’t allow your dreams to die. Get started today! Envision what you want for your life, set your destination, and remember to have fun along the way. And if you need support on your journey, always reach out for guidance.

Talayah G. Stovall is an author, speaker and life purpose coach. This article is excerpted from her latest book, Light Bulb Moments: 75 Lessons for Everyday Living, published by Hay House, June 9, 2014 and available for presale worldwide. www.talayahstovall.com