*This is a Guest Post by my husband, Bernd. Back when we were dating, he used to write me emails and I always joke that those emails were why I married him in the first place. He really has a way with words. Hope you enjoy this post!
The title seems vague. End of the road for what, exactly? At least that’s the question I would ask myself if someone told me that. That is just the point, though. Look at a map and you’ll see a complex myriad of roads. Each one has a start and a finish and this one connects to that one and so on.
This becomes very important when planning a road trip. Which roads will you need to take so you reach your destination? How long will it take to travel this road, as opposed to that road? When we went on a road trip for our vacation last year, we planned to take a certain set of roads to get us to where we wanted to go. We deviated, or detoured, on purpose when we travelled back home to benefit from seeing different scenery.
This is just like life, isn’t it? Our lives are a myriad of roads. Hindsight will show us the highways we are on, the gravel roads we have travelled, sometimes even the rabbit trails we have explored. We embarked on an amazing, lifelong journey when we were born into this world, and someday that journey will come to an end. That’s just the cold hard truth about a road, it has a beginning and an end.
Sometimes we switch the road we are on when key decisions are made. For me, for example, I was born in Germany. That road came to an end for me when my parents moved our whole family to Canada, thus embarking on a new road. That’s a big change for a 7 ½-year-old. Life took another turn when I met the love of my life and we got married. And so on. I think you get the picture.
As I am writing this I am approaching a crossroads so to speak. The road I am currently on is coming to an end, and I must embark on a new road – one that I haven’t travelled yet. I find myself scrambling for a roadmap, seeking clear directions. Unfortunately as handy as Google Maps is, I don’t think it will give me clear directions this time.
Plan & Prepare for the Journey
I have had the pleasure of reading John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” One of the laws that stood out to me most is the law of navigation. John Maxwell opens the chapter telling the story about two explorers and their incredible race to see who would get to the south pole first. The first explorer, Roald Amundsen carefully studied and prepared for his trip. He gathered information and strategically assembled his team. He thoughtfully planned where supply drops were to be located. He carefully thought through every detail of the journey. The second explorer, Robert Scott, did not prepare as carefully and meticulously as Roald. Needless to say Roald’s team not only beat Robert’s team to the south pole, they did so by more than a month! Roald’s team also made it safely back to the start, not losing anyone. Unfortunately, everyone from Robert’s team perished on the way back.
This may be an extreme example, but you can see the importance of planning for the journey. Just like it is important to plan for a road trip, we must plan where we want to go in life. We need to have a clear destination in mind, when we want to arrive there and which stops we make in between. One thing I am learning is that intentionality is helping me achieve the things I want to achieve. A carefully crafted plan becomes easily achievable.
Be Prepared for Obstacles & Detours
Roald had so carefully crafted his planned expedition, that he wasn’t met by obstacles really. Well, that’s not exactly true. The worst thing that happened was one of his crew developed an infected tooth which needed to be extracted. A minor issue really but still worth mentioning given that is was unexpected.
Robert’s team was ill-prepared for the journey from the start. Instead of using dog sleds like Roald chose, they opted for motorized sleds and ponies for backup. The motorized sleds all stopped working merely five days into the journey. The ponies did not fare well either. All of them had to be put down before they even reached the south pole. This left the men to carry all the supplies and have to travel on foot.
So we see that we must also be prepared for those circumstances that aim to blindside us. Circumstances sometimes aim to knock us off our charted course, if we get caught unprepared. I must admit that I am not like Roald, with a carefully planned and meticulously prepared for the journey. I sometimes get inconvenienced by a detour or slowed down by an obstacle. While I wish I could leave you with exact directives regarding preparation, I cannot do that since everyone’s lives are so uniquely different. I can, however, say that it would be wise to be prepared in two general and main areas, time, and money. Having a surplus of both will allow us to overcome a lot of obstacles and detours.
Pay Attention to Road Signs
On Robert Scott’s journey to the south pole, he and his team were plagued by problems, even early on in the journey. He stubbornly continued on, not paying attention to the warning signs. He didn’t only ignore one, but two signs that should have indicated to him he should quit and return. Did I just say Robert should have quit? Yes, it is okay to quit if human life is in jeopardy. Robert’s failure to pay attention to the signs cost him not only his life but that of his entire team.
I don’t mean to make Robert sound like he was a terrible person. Not at all. However, he was grossly unprepared for the journey he and his crew embarked on. I don’t care to admit it, but I am a little like Robert in that I can suffer from severe tunnel vision. I can be so focussed on the finish, I don’t see the warning signs that I need to pay attention to, warning signs that may serve to aid me in my journey. Perhaps I need to slow down for a section or take a detour around an unforeseen problem. No matter what the signs are, I will see them should I choose to pay attention. That’s why I try to take regular self- evaluations to determine how my journey is progressing.
To sum things up, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the journey you find yourself on right now. Do you have a sound plan to get to your destination? How well is your plan thought out? Have you taken the time to plan the meticulous details? Are you paying attention to the road signs along the way, and even prepared for any detours and obstacles? I certainly hope so.
As for me, I am enjoying the new road I am on. I have paid attention to the road signs and corrected my path. I rest assured that I am on the right path and it will take me where I want to go. I don’t have it all figured out, but I have enough information to make a well-informed decision.