Lost direction - sail to a brighter future
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
22nd January, 20130 Comments
“I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
These words were spoken by Jimmy Dean, country singer, actor, TV personality and businessman. Although not the biggest or most recent celebrity, his life shows that no matter what comes your way, you can weather the storms and change direction. He started as the singer of the hit “Big Bad John” and ended up as the owner of the Jimmy Dean sausage company.
So why might this be of relevance to us today? Increasingly people are coming to counselling because they feel that they lack direction in their lives. Perhaps they knew where they were going early on in life, getting through school, perhaps a career, even marriage and children. Then something makes them take stock and they feel lost a gap between reality and their dreams has opened and they have no idea how to bridge the gap.
Many people will recognise this symptom as a “mid-life crisis”, yet as it seems to affect people in younger generations; it is perhaps looking at some of the ways in which to make changes to become happier about the direction and the quality of life.
Most of us will have a list of things we strive for: money, status, a good house, and so forth. Often though, we realise that we can only enjoy these things if they are in our lives in a manner that matches who we are and our sense of self. For example would you become a drug-dealer to get these rewards? The vast majority would not be comfortable with such a trade. So it seems that both the destination and the manner we get there is important.
Often when we set out and then become anxious that we have chosen the wrong path; this can become a limiting behaviour as we are scared to set out on any path till we are sure that the destination is perfect. We want a guarantee of the results, despite what our environment throws at us. Yet with few guarantees in life perhaps this is where the words of Mr Dean might help. Although we have a chosen path, it’s okay to alter our direction to keep on course for our destination.
However, that does not address the problem that the destination might not be as we expect. Perhaps that new career will not bring the benefits we hoped for, perhaps that date is not Mr Right; but equally it is a sign of strength to realise the direction is wrong and change it. As General Paton said “We are not retreating, we are advancing in a different direction”.
So if you are feeling stuck, and have lost your direction, perhaps the important things are to choose your best guess as to what might bring you happiness and set out on the best course you see now. Trust yourself that you can trim your sails if you need to take a different path or even head for a different port as you uncover changes about yourself. In being honest and making progress, you are not stuck, but always moving forward developing and nearing your goal.
In Mark Twain’s words:
"In twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from your safe harbour, catch the trade winds. Explore, Dream, Discover".
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