Sometimes You Need to Know Where You Are to Get Where You’re Going

A couple of years ago, Les and I were all set to enjoy a long-awaited date day. We headed to the King of Prussia area where we would shop a favorite Barnes & Noble, eat lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, and explore the Container Store, Crate and Barrel, and any store that struck our my fancy. Then we would eat at Quincy’s Lobster Roll and maybe end with a trip through Wegman’s, taste-testing amazing cheese and buying food treats we didn’t need.

Instead I tripped.focus, pay attention, goals, transition

We were headed into the Cheesecake Factory and I tripped over the curb, the curb that was painted bright yellow. I put out my hands to catch myself as I crashed down onto the sidewalk.

I got up and we sat inside for a few moments to assess the damage. I was shaken up. I was embarrassed. I had scrapes on my hands and my glasses from where they kissed the sidewalk. But I thought I was okay.

“Let’s eat lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and then reassess how I feel.” I didn’t want to miss the rest of our date day (or the pumpkin cheesecake). As lunch ended, my hand felt a bit numb. I used the ladies room and, when I went to exit, realized I couldn’t use my hand to push the door open. And now my arm hung funny.

Turns out I’d broken it.

As I dealt with the weeks of a sling and a cast and the physical therapy, I paid closer attention to where and how I walk.

focus, pay attention, goals, transitionWe always knew I was a tripper. I’ve had more holes in the knees of my pants over the years than any toddler. I never leave the house without Les telling me to walk carefully.

When the broken arm finally slowed me down, though, I realized that I almost always trip in the transitions.
> I miss the last step or stub my toe on the top one.
> I catch the curb moving from parking lot to sidewalk.
> I walk into the door at the store or catch my shoulder on the edge of the wall as I turn the corner.

I think it’s because I’m always anticipating what’s next. 

Rather than noticing the step or curb or door I’m headed toward, I’m looking at the hallway up ahead, the place where I’m going, rather than where I am.

Doing that kept me from enjoying a long-anticipated date day.

Doing that sometimes has kept me from moving forward in my life as well.

If I don’t know where I am right now, how can I navigate from here to there?

  • If I am unaware of my current financial status, how can I ensure I will be able to increase my savings?
  • If I’m unaware of where I am struggling spiritually, how can I pursue the disciplines that might make me a more consistent Jesus follower?
  • If I’m not sure how my marriage is at this moment, how can I make it a better one?

Yes, I know the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I’ve even said it.

But now I believe this is equally true: “If you don’t know where you are, you won’t get where you’re going.”

Last week I had what was really a coaching session with a friend about my business. I started out talking about my goals, about where I want to be. She stopped me and asked some basic (and hard) questions about where I am right now. Honestly, I didn’t really want to think about them. It’s often not fun to evaluate our current inadequacies or to realistically identify our current position.

But the first step toward where I’m going is from right there. When I try to leap over that spot, I get tripped up. Things come crashing down. I get discouraged, bruised, battered.

When I know where I am, I can plan the next step.
I can navigate the transition and move forward.

focus, pay attention, goals, transitionI look down now when I approach the end of a stairway, going up or down, and watch myself make the step. I pay attention. Only then do I look up to focus on where I’m headed. It has required retraining myself. It feels awkward (and unnecessary) because I move quickly and just want to get where I’m going. But the broken arm assured me it wasn’t unnecessary.

I need to take those moments, as I think about my goals in every area of life and where I want to be, to first identify where I am. It might be uncomfortable. It might not feel necessary. I might believe it’s holding me back.

I would be wrong.

In what area of your life do you need to take a hard look to see where you are so that you can move forward toward that goal out ahead of you?

8 thoughts on “Sometimes You Need to Know Where You Are to Get Where You’re Going”

  1. Carol, I get this. I am in a time of transition. Some people may call it stepping out in faith. I just don’t want to trip. After reading this I realize I need to pause. Because the curb is a bit ahead and I already want to know what’s going to happen after I step up. Where I am right now is enough. It’s okay not to know. Part of the joy is letting Him unfold it before me.
    Thank you for sharing

    • Carol,
      Once again the Lord has used your words to speak to my heart especially after the message our pastor gave today. I feel that I am missing a lot of the “now” in my haste to get to the next thing. In missing the now I am missing opportunities for listening for the Spirit’s direction and guidance. Thank you for sharing a situation that you have experienced in a way that encourages me!

  2. I’m polar opposite of this. I am some times paralyzed because I’m checking in every direction. Worry about what’s happened in the past perhaps happening again and not trusting Gods grace to carry me through. Ugh.

  3. Good reminder. I would much rather look ahead too. The daily practical things are so boring and get avoided, so then the future is lessened because I’m always playing catch-up.


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