It’s important to know where you’re headed and why you’re going there. You need a sense of direction and purpose so you can commit to the path before you. But what happens when your journey veers off the beaten path? You summon the courage to go where your heart leads you.
Following the beaten path is deceptively comfortable. It’s broad, easy, and popular, so loads of people flock to it their whole lives. But is it right for you?
When you know who you are, you discover you’ll have to leave at least one beaten path to get where you’re going. Why? Because you’re a unique human being with gifts and desires to express, and doing that in a way that suits you means exploring what’s out there to find the best fit.
This doesn’t mean you must do something completely different from what everyone else is doing – it just means you do it in a way unique to you. You can train to be a doctor, but your bedside manner and standard of excellence bloom from your spirit. You feel me?
The courage to leave the beaten path is the courage to strike out on your own and discover what works best for you. This means you have to get comfortable with trial and error, and be willing to fail if it gets you closer to your goal.
Did you catch that? This means you have to be willing to fail if it gets you closer to your goal.
When you strike out on your own, you’re doing something you’ve never done before. It’s disheartening and downright unrealistic if you expect to get it right the first time. You have to give yourself the time, space, and freedom to figure out what works and the best way to do it. This means no judging your speed of progress or comparing your baby steps to someone else’s expert moves.
When you commit to living a life aligned with your dreams, visions, and true nature, you embrace the opportunity to explore what works and what doesn’t. You’re literally creating the blueprint of your life, and that’s a powerful place to be in.
So how can you make this your reality?
Here’s a 4-step process:
Write out your big picture, then chunk it into smaller steps.
Let’s say you want to get fit – that’s your bigger picture. The actions you take to make that happen? Those are your smaller steps. You want to meet yourself where you are and grow from there. It’s important to divvy up your big picture into bite-sized actions so you don’t get overwhelmed with the enormity of your goal.
So, “get fit” can branch into “drink more eater,” “eat more fruits and vegetables,” and “start exercising.”
See how those 3 are more tangible and easier to measure than “get fit?” You can even turn “start exercising” into “take a brisk 10-min walk every day.” Bite-sized and measurable; if you can’t measure it, you can’t track it, and if you can’t track it, you can’t change it.
Make a loose, adjustable timeline.
How much time are you willing to commit to your project? Are you on a deadline? Do you need super-fast results yesterday? Do you want a series of smaller milestones, like weekly check-ins, or do you want larger ones, like monthly or quarterly reviews?
Define the parameters of your project so you don’t lose sight of your end goal(s). Having a timeline also gives you a snapshot of how long it takes to master certain activities and ways of being.
Define your end point.
How will you know when you’re done and ready for something new? Is this a skill/behavior/habit with multiple levels of prowess, or is it a smaller piece of your life mosaic?
It’s important to have constraints in place so you can feel the thrill of transcending each one, otherwise it can all feel like one big slog with no end in sight. Let’s avoid that, yes?
Map out your support system.
There’s a lot you can do on your own, and there’s a lot you can’t. The key is to know the difference and act accordingly.
Educate yourself on the support you’ll need. Will you get private coaching or training, an accountability buddy, or a mastermind group? Set aside the time and effort to get the help most appropriate for you.
It’s also useful to have a budget so you don’t blow your resources and get nothing in return. Know how much time and money you’re willing to invest in a robust support system, and decide what it’s worth to you to have the best help available.
Leaving the beaten path can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Mustering the courage to do so is a daily decision to focus on what works brilliantly for you and gets you where you want to go.
This focus makes it easier to look at the big picture, make a loose timeline, define your end point, and ask for the support you need. Following this 4-step process makes it more doable and fun to carve out your own path. Are you ready?
How have you found the courage to veer off the beaten path?
Share your experiences with me in the comments below.