As the school summer holidays draw to a close many parents will have had that long car journey with the voices from the back seat, 'are we there yet?' I don't remember being an 'are we there yet?' child, but that's not to say my parents may not have a different recollection of our car journeys. What I do remember is a pack of cards we had for countryside car journey bingo. You each drew your 5 cards and whoever found their items first won. You knew it was for countryside journeys because it included things like a five bar gate, or an oak tree. Or if you were really unlucky a lychgate...
We went on two different types of journey when I was a child. One that was intended to get somewhere, like on holiday, and one that was just about a 'drive out'. And the latter filled me with a sense of dread. What on earth does anyone want from a journey that has no other purpose than the journey itself? Well I'm guessing that over the last few months of working from home, that the 'drive out', quite simply for that change of scenery, is a concept a lot more people have come to enjoy. And that got me thinking about journeys and our perception of time.
Some people spend a lot of time willing the future to arrive more quickly, always in a hurry for things, anticipating that when they arrives it will be better than the present. Everything is about the build up, the hope, the expectancy. And sometimes the same people worry about other aspects of the future, what might go wrong, what Monday might bring. Time spent now in fear and discomfort about what might happen. Whether trying to hurry up the good things or fretting about the negative things, their time in the present is taken up by what might be, rather than what is.
Others spend their time in the past, reliving good times or bad. Coming up with smarter retorts in the argument they lost, re-working the past a bit like touching up a photo. Life is full of 'if only', and 'next time'. Wishing that somehow the clock could be turned back and a different version of history written, and they only notice their present once it has become one of the missed opportunities in the past that needs re-writing.
"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." ~ Glenn Turner
The present is very much about the journey, so what is the scenery like outside your window? Mindfulness, meditation, and many other practices that enable you to focus on the present and make the most of your time there are incredibly positive for your mental health. Savouring the moment; the sights and sounds, the tastes and smells, and all the sensations of where you are right now. If you give yourself time to pause and simply notice, not judge, just notice what happens to your sense of calm. I've been reviewing co-active coaching this weekend and love the concept of dancing in the moment with the client.
But if you spend your time in the present, what's the purpose behind your journey, your motivation to travel? Sometimes it is like the 'drive out', its all about viewing the world from a different angle, changing the scenery for a while. It doesn't matter that the destination is where you started from, the pleasure is in the journey itself. Lifelong learning is very similar; the pleasure lies in the learning not in the ultimate purpose; learning for learning's sake. So how do you have effective goals and still live in the moment?
A well set goal, one where the outcome is ecological, specific and achievable, is also one where you can enjoy the journey, in the knowledge you will reach your destination. The trick is to take yourself forward to that point in time when you will have achieved your goal, and take a really good look around. Notice all the things you can see, what you hear people saying, how you feel. Use as many of your senses as you can to really breathe in the whole scene, and then bring that future reality back with you into the present. Notice how many options are now available to you that will enable you to achieve the goal. As you begin to travel your journey towards that goal now you will notice all the small achievements that are contributing towards that success.
Like the countryside bingo cards as a child, they gave a focus to look out for, and because you were watching for them you found them. Lets face it, without them, who would ever have bothered to notice a five bar gate? Or learn how to spot an oak at 100yards? Our goals give us something to look out for on the journey, provide a sense of satisfaction when we get them. And what about the elusive lychgate? Well I can tell you there aren't that many of them around Northumberland or a drive through Scotland. But drawing the elusive card doesn't mean you are destined to fail, it just means you might need to look in a different place.
The achievement of our goals doesn't always lie on the route we think it will. If you want to explore your goals further, and perhaps dance in the moment then get in touch.